All lives appeared lost on the reef ahead,
like semen drying on grizzled faces.
The heart in H’s hairy chest was rotten,
and Maug had nowhere to put it save his own.
As H shuddered, wild eyed, Maug led him
to the white pyramid of their bed together.
H, who had begun to hang his head, put
his mouth in a basin of milk and drank deep.
H’s father, the horse, was there before
him, his clothes torn off, his head bandaged.
“This man is dwelling in blood-guilt and
delirium,” he breathed. “Lift the head away.”
Maug looked on with eyes full of wonder as
the sick H cast anchor and stood up, finished.
It was a gruesome duty to live like a horse
stiff from the hand that drew forth the money.
H said, “I want no pay.” And Maug said,
“Your father must be proud.”
H said, “I’m dying. I never meant
to be noble, but I have my father’s name.”
No tears came. The blood thickened. H
threw back his head and was a horse.
He looked into Maug’s face, eager
to ask questions in a tongue he did not understand.
“Come,” said the governor. “Let’s go.” H was now
his loving, loyal beast to ride.
Dawn was breaking. The wind had fallen, and
the sea lay dark as if with its own memories.
Had it been only a blind tangle of passion?
In the end, the creature was quiet and forgot.
End of Book I
Continue to Book II, Chapter I