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.