The Warhorse
“Hwaer cwom mearg? Hwaer cwom mago?”
—“The Wanderer”
Oft has the warhorse, the wayworn widowmaker,
with wearied withers been dismissed
from battle, bereft of bit and bridle, 
saddened and saddle-sore, to survive
his final charge, his last campaign—
the paddock, the pack, the stall.
So I speak as a steed strapping in skirmish, 
stronger in winters, now without 
a warrior or a war. I was bred
a weapon, weaned for the watch-fire 
and the horn at dawn, the hoarse
cries of riders rampant in the rush
toward death, daring, undespairing, 
because boldness was their birthright
and their choice. From a colt
I was chosen, broken, raised a chieftain
among chargers, cruel of hoof,
a stampeding sword. Of slaughter
I am now deprived, and of my death-
friends, passed beneath the pastureland,
the bloodless grass that I am given 
to eat, and live. I love the balefire, 
not the hay-bale, the haw and brawl
of the hale champion, the split helm.
Where now the war-mare? 
Where the spur, and the spurnful 
stallion? Where the fight-scarred filly?
They are gone, my glory-herd;
they have galloped to the grave.
Now I await a drafthorse’s doom.
Fate has left me hoary, hobbled—
flouted by peace, and peacetime’s fodder.
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