A horse lay on the ground, ringed
by sentinel horses of the same dark brown

like a monochrome drawing, only not a drawing,
early morning, a cold morning, beside the county road.

I walked down the ditch and up to the fence
and as no animal moved I became certain of death.

The horses bowed their heads to sniff
the dead one. Frost rimed the mud, dully, lit

by the dull low sun. Seven years ago my friend
died and I am still outraged. I have been

shaking my stupid fist of outrage at the gods
for so long they must have a nickname for me,

like Dryope, for the black poplar tree,
or else Sophia, as a joke, since

I have no wisdom. Only petty malevolence
could have dreamed up three kinds of cancer

to rot away one of earth’s best creatures—
noble as a horse, keen as an eagle, tender

as a good mother, the only man whose hand
I held without fear or need. Later, on the car radio,

a strange bulletin: Escaped bison swam the Hudson,
blundered onto the interstate, and then were killed

by marksmen. Fifteen of them, also dark
brown, like my friend, whose hair and brows were dark,

the dark manes of the animals dead, and gathering.