Sideshow

Original Text: 
© Turtle, Swan: Poems by Mark Doty (Boston: David R. Godine, 1987): 47-48. PS 3554 O798T8 1987 Robarts Library
2softly. Canvas flaps ripple,
3starred banners; this is the tent
4of animals partial or possessed
5of extra parts: the four-legged hen,
6the ram sprouting a bouquet
7of horns. The ewe drags a hooved bundle
8on the dirty straw, and in a corner
9the most troubling gaze,
10a face that looks up as if
11through a foot of lake water:
12WORLD'S SMALLEST HORSE, B. 1976,
13D. 1980. The paint on the rough sign
14bleeds. And on the tent flap
15someone painted him galloping,
16shorter than daisies, on a meadow
17impossibly green, mountains stunned
18by rain. He never galloped;
19the crooked little legs held him
20a foot above the dirt he studied
21day after day and now cannot
22even enter. Cotton batting pushes
23the iridescent glass eyes slightly askew,
24his mouth sewn up into that crooked
25but somehow forgiving smile, as if
26even after suffering the lifetime
27of a small horse it is all right
28to remain on earth with his blind,
29satisfied stare -- lone star of squalor
30in the miserable tent, my teacher.
Copyright 1987 Turtle, Swan: Poems by Mark Doty David R. Godine
Digital Facsimile of Original Pages

Notes

1] See National Geographic (March 1985) for a history of the breeding and display of miniature horses in America. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
Texas Review
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.
Rhyme: 
Special Copyright: 

This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Mark Doty.