In Spacehorse you do not have to be stone.
You’ve buried a horse one too many to be 
set in stone. Others bury to transform. 
The most hopeful don’t. They leave 
the reins         you need 
to let go. I won’t 
erase our tracks. Soft ground like stone shuffles.
Like why wolves knot. Like running won’t whittle 
away a wound. My feet : shot,            dear 
& open.              What lets eternity loose  
like lead. Axed &. Unsoothed. I can’t 
escape. Not all impressions 
fade. Sometimes you die 
from complications—              or persist for years, 
& then silence in bottled-up  thunder & bang. 
Sometimes all you can say is “wait.” Over 
&. Over. There are vacant stone 
houses you could break
during sunrise. They reek 
of rotting balsam trees,
& you’d give anything          to rest, 
knowing someone condemned them 
long before you met— & the truth about you 
is that once you’ve loved 
greatly, that love is set 
in stone
& so much more desirable
to vandals who inscribe
upon you that death 
was once natural 
before the need for burials. 
Here, no one will tell you.
The first doctor you see only predicts 
so much scar tissue will make love
difficult. The whole time he speaks 
quietly in the how & when
best you leave.
& boundaries change
constantly, you tell a specialist, 
who asks you to reach 
into further recesses: the pogroms 
in Russia           & then Poland, 
that your father’s family fled 
& the shame they still impress 
as if you descend not from survivors 
but fugitives.
Like taking those first steps.
All over again. You have no sense.
How you did it. & now, trying to perfect 
what once came naturally. Before it was set 
in shuffle. Better to forget. & silence 
from scratch. If you can. 

            I can’t. 

& that’s not it.
Has nothing to do
with it, anyway.
Here I now descend 
from my assailant who returns 
at dim & woolly hours to clean up
demolition. I chip away & flint, 
carving him
from a distance. 
When our eyes lock,
all I see in his     is akin
to my own ire & din : you aren’t 
perfect symmetry
is not symmetry at all. I don’t think I was chosen
over those who die in such rubble. Here, they say 
                             assault has degrees
                    when all of us remain 
       defaced. Now I shamble through
cemeteries. You won’t receive answers to these questions. My feet
           will give in. Etching. Stone.  Thrown until swollen &.
                  Dazed. Taken. & taking.
                               Until Dust.
                                         &. Retch—

                                                        You will not rot away.

                                                          In Spacehorse, you will be renamed. 

       Rest your head in soft starhorse thunder without thinking 
       of what you’re doing. You’ll never have to wish 
                       how you could do it again.

Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021, and the author ofturn around, BRXGHT XYXS(Get Fresh Books, 2019). Her chapbook 20 Atomic Sonnets, which appears in Black Warrior Review (2020), is part of a larger future project called The Atomic Sonnets, which she began in 2019, in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday. She is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a 2013 CantoMundo Fellow. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Poetry Society of America (PSA), The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature, Hayden’s Ferry Review,, among others. In 2017, her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC and published by The Kenyon Review Online. Recently, her poem “Dancing with Kiko on the Moon” was featured in Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. She’s part of the 2018 QUEENSBOUND project, and took part in The Onassis Foundation’s 2020 ENTER exhibition. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog.

Feature image by Ilya lix on Unsplash