The Horse Came Back But Not the Rider

—On The Lament for Art Ó Laoghaire

The horse came back but not the rider.
There was blood on the saddle
and a cry of lament in the rooms of the house—
a cry they heard in the next Parish,
in Macroom and The Gearagh—
the sound of loss in a dying language.

The horse came back but not the rider
who in his haste forgot that the long grass
could hide a sorrow-maker—
the one whose high noon bullet would pass
through the heart of the oral tradition,
killing the horseman but not the horse

that galloped back to the stable yard
and Eileen waiting, the Queen of Keening
whose youthful beauty left no trace
in the days of her long siesta,
when every dream was a playback of the scene
when the horse came back but not the rider. Gerard Smyth

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