Winged Victory

Manes

 

 

Come hear the Boer’s hooves.

This cavalry canters on, turns

 

the corner as might a flood

of urgent salmon. Headstrong

 

they take to tarmac like Tyne,

surfacing not to breed

 

but to breathe, wearing pocked

sequinned skins. This battery

 

of bodies is a foggy glue-sniff.

Horses who made light of guns,

 

carried the living, ferried

them home. Nothing but death

 

could stop these steeds

in their steels. Horseflesh ridden,

 

shot at, eaten. And yet, not a soul

of them have names here

 

as men do, in stone. Let me mend

this poor husbandry:

 

come here filly, tell me your name,

I’ve a handful of hay.

 

 

Note: In Roman mythology manes are the souls of dead ancestors, worshipped as beneficent spirits. Haymarket’s ‘Winged Victory’ commemorates the men in Northumbrian regiments who lost their lives during the Second Boer War (1899-1902). An estimated 300,000 horses also died in British service.

 

Joanne Clement is a poet and doctoral candidate at Newcastle University, where she investigates Thomas Bewick’s tale-piece prints. The ekphrastic study was awarded a Northern Bridge studentship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In 2012 Joanne became the recipient of a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North.