Night of the Bomb-Faced Boy

By Max McDonough

Pierced, I shut down my phone,
its careless screen,
drove the road’s wet echo
beyond myself and only
past the state line north
before slowing, crumpling
to the shoulder, to the sagging fence—
for what—to sit
on the damp hill, feeling
the easy guilt? I did
until the horse’s snort,
its stamping sound,
the huge dark eye
I stood to meet, flecks of fallen moon
liquid there, and there
in it, the Me I saw:
small, astonished—seen.
The seeing was not human. There was no
more accurate shame. Pricks
of stars on the muddy ground.
Cheat grass, thistle weed’s purple tufts
knee-height swaying in soft wind.
The horse breathing. The horse, as if sensing
my need, drew back in
to nuzzle my hand.
I couldn’t bear to let it touch me.