Afterward there was muttering, uneasy
bursts of laughter, and the silences
that fell around the inn-yard tables
under the vines. His men remembered
the rough, dusty miles, their robes
road-crusted, the hawk-stirred slow air
acrid from the horses' lathered flanks. Something
happened. A sharp jingle of harness,
jerking muzzles bridle-sawed, loud
whinnying, then the topple from the saddle,
the sudden heavy grunt, how his blunt shoulder
struck road rock, his helmet clanged and rolled,
and there for that suspended moment
among the terrified tattoo of hooves
he lay blind, head naked as a melon.
We saw nothing there, they said. Heard
nothing. Only the swirl and billowing of dust.
As if the road itself, the very ground
rose up, unhorsed and claimed him.