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Ethan Vilu: Strange, Ungainly & Blessed

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 03.06.2023.

Fallen Off His Horse (June 1974)

When we succumbed to the porous ground,

I tried my best to placate gravity.

Ankle-wired to the withers,

arms outstretched,

we moved as one to fight

the earth's embrace.

It all went dark. I turned.

The sky was like a photograph of hell,

held nothing but contempt for our fragility.

Just then, my horse obscured the clouds.

His mane was streaked with mud,

and as he shook

his breast held the resolve

of stress-warped steel.

The clouds returned.

I got up on my feet.

We both would see

the finishing post again.

A Sprint for Big Summer

Nearby, the ocean’s spacious haze

held its tongue, chose to keep the way

exuberant and clear. The race began.

The grey shape of La Deuxième Étoile

tipped a spear across the wind,

chased the dream down out of sight

around the right-hand corner,

then slanted back into Big Summer’s light.

Around the left and through the end

she’d counter all her shadows,

persevere against their rattling dance,

discard the sprint into a fulsome flash.

Like July sun on pacific waves,

she did emerge high-spirited and shining.

Yearling Sale, 1954

Among the dogwood, ash and eastern pine

I saw his mane, his transcendental stance.

The strange, ungainly, blessed arc of my life

now bends towards the purchase of this horse.

In time, each quiet day will take its course

and you will see my wisdom, tall and proud.

You will applaud my foresight of his grace.

You will forgive the arrogance of the name

I gave to him; that promise he'll fulfill.

The future is a bright, ethereal place

where every soul can come to recognize

his fortitude, his fervent strength of will.

The View From the Pace Car

You can see the lawns of Rideau Carleton

rotate on their axis like a globe.

The infield is a world out of reach,

its forests mute, an unsubdued expanse.

The horses, here, are constellations

upright on the war-path, quarter-miles

delineating seasons. With yearning cries,

each battle births a new commanding star

who brings an earthen cycle to its end.

Their hoofbeats form the background of this world:

a winnowing roar the people cannot hear,

the sound time makes to underpin its passing.

Palace Music

Patrician’s face, his solemn blaze

held high, attentive. Left foot raised

and every muscle tempered, even-keel.

Eyes turned inward, allowing

and inviting nothing, and yet his mane

played meaning-laden waltzes with the wind.

His hooves would hammer rounds out from the earth:

brash counterpoint, unyielding declarations.

Long-blessed, his gnarled magenta heart

conducted scores of proud wisteria-veins.

About the Author: Ethan Vilu is a poet and editor from Calgary, Canada. Her longsheet A Decision Re: Zurich was published by The Blasted Tree in 2020, and her chapbook Drawings From Before The Red Year is forthcoming with Anstruther Press. Ethan currently serves as both poetry editor and circulation manager for filling Station Magazine.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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