Kandace Siobhan Walker

Sympathy for Wild Horses (Boo Hags’ Rock)


Night’s wild horses, we are like that, heartbeating our way into the most human landscapes.
Built from cold muscle, we’re alive somewhere in those depths but now, we’re red.
Of course, the god of dreams was skinless. Of course, we were chosen by the tragedies that
found us. Of course, we are misinterpreted by scholars, anthropologists, old wives:
we don’t look like the dreams we carry in our breasts. We sound unlike the harpies but
we are, more sister than tails. Tell me, you must’ve known I was coming—are you astonished
by your own desire, or by my redness, or by how happily I furnish the milk of your sleep?

.                  Dream about god, dream about sex,
.                  dream that you are unmade
.                  & made again in the image of
.                  a popular misery, dream nakedness.
.                  Everybody laughs.

Comes from earth, palms-first, gasping out of grief’s shallow bed. We’re indigenous
to trauma & lowcountry, Georgia especially, where we live in endangered wetlands.
Disassembled, skinned, we die somewhere, then we’re born somewhere else & we push our
way up just like the rest, through bedrock, soil, extinction worse than death. It’s no wonder
we’re not long for the sky, palace of gleaming white things. I was unbodied without realising
the deep-sea earthquake was mine, somewhere my life was taking place without my consent,
a textureless tragedy on which I could gain no purchase. I was clueless about the nature of the
world I lived in. It’s a party dress, it’s fragile, it can be worn. Would you recognise the shape
of herherher, what’s riding you? Would the lightbulb come on after you start to see
the dreams she gives you—

.                  Dream about ways out, dream childhood,
.                  ours shared, dream griefgriefgrief,
.                  dream searching, dream that promising,
.                  serpentine glow.

How we were weakness corporeal, just as raw & unempathetic as cargo trains toward
unravelling Western frontiers. We passed the ordinary wonders: grazing cows, wide plains,
rivers travelling the same native way, but we can only feed on our own visions. We put the
past up with the stars, we multiply, bury futures & wait for something greengreengreen.
We lose numbers, we relearn intimacy without faces, we separate & rejoin. Every-one has her
relatives, her lovers & ex-boyfriends to visit, to dream, to ride. We map by the sky that threw
us down but now shows us where to go. I come to you, willing, skeletally willing to take
whatever you’re offering; my devotion is a rough jade. We’ll make homes in even the
smallest bone of want.

.                  Dream violence, dream oranges. Dream
.                  all kinds of fruit, forgiveness as burning
.                                  pine forests.
.                          Dream regrowing in spring.

We’re caught out with old broomsticks, salt, spilled dry rice, clear nights on metal beads,
all the usual tricks. Here, the door, painted haint blue. We’re stupid enough to mistake colour
for water, which we can’t cross. We fail, we’re stopped, we die as we’re born:

.                  Dream straw, dream death by counting,
.                  dream salt in your skin, daylight burning
.                  between your reflection & your blue veins.

You must see us sometimes, crawling back to places we died first. But we persist: to be seen,
we’re compelled to act as the architects of dreams. I look into glass & see only glass.
Where can we find ourselves, save in the nightmares we ride into others? Did you believe,
wrongly, an invitation would keep me away? Without securities, I moth my way in via
keyhole, via lacuna in the rotted green siding. You wake breathless because it’s you I came

for, but everybody else we just like for their sweet breath, that wicked candy absence of fear,
just a sip…

.                  Dream cold showers, dream bruises,
.                  dream weaknesses, your mother’s palm
.                  flat against your skin, hot where it rises.
.                  Dream resistresistresist.

Whatever skin I’m wearing wears out & I must have a new one, galloping through the salt
marshes ‘til I find a smoking roof, a lullaby. Travelling dreamer-to-dreamer, but such
peaceful sleepers, none wake. Cheating makes the skin wear faster so I wait the next night &
next, hugging my amaranthine chest to my raw red knees. I wait for sundown, wait for a
fighter, weeksyears. Get it? This is how long it took me to arrive at you. We are ventricles for
each other’s yellow wars. We’re as absolute as the island’s moving beaches, shifting down
coastlines with centuries of tides. We survived, remember: Everything else becomes nothing.

.                  Dream electricity, dream hunger.
.                  Dream about mirrors, about your god,
.                  dream hooves. Burning pine. The sea,
.                  violent & pregnant with a storm.

Slow, all-fours, the world as you knew it coming apart at the seams—it was the same for me.
But haven’t we found, in each other? Something shimmering? Kin? Your wrists, purpled, my
lips, swollen: the geography of our infant state. With dayclean, we’ll embrace being skinless.
What do I want you to say? Say rest, say come by here. Say relieve all your soft vulnerables
into the moon of my lap. Clouds of our skin rising away from the spinning wheel, out the
window where shadows lapse over the city, what was once ours. What is power without
power? We’ll wait in the magic of our own unspooling, wondering now, what dawn is this?

Kandace Siobhan Walker is a UK-based writer, photographer and filmmaker. Her poetry film o, digital! was shortlisted for Out-Spoken’s 2017 Prize for Poetry. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, New Plains Review, Fifty George Square and Obsidian, among others.