The Village Idiot.
Under the chewing chestnut mare
the village idiot stands.
(The idiot's height is normal, but
the horse is forty hands.
Its mass/ bone-section ratio
requires great iron bands
like splints in place along its legs,
so it stands beneath the strain.
Its brow is wet with equine sweat,
unless it may be rain.
It looks the whole world in the face.
It has a horse's brain.
Week in, week out, from morn till night
you can hear it puff and blow.
It has such trouble standing up
it cannot really go.
The locals, out of sympathy,
prefer to call it "slow".)
And children coming home from school
look in at the open door.
They see the idiot standing there
all bruised and hurt and sore,
for every time the mare moves foot
it kicks him to the floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church,
and sits among the boys.
He hears the parson rave and rant;
to him it is just noise.
He smiles as children pull his hair
and hit him with their toys.
It feels to him like his mother's hand
coming from Paradise!
He thinks of lying on the floor,
kicked as he tried to rise,
and how her hard rough hand would wipe
consciousness from his eyes.
Gazing - rejoicing - sorrowing,
onward through life he goes;
each morning sees some task begin,
like trying to count his toes;
a hopeless task when, to this day,
he cannot count his nose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
for bringing with such force
the lesson that the villagers
will hurt without remorse
one of their own with weaknesses,
but are kindly to a horse.