for Percival Everett

Fleetingly, the mule is neither
justice nor injustice, but
another muscled

abbreviation in which
right and wrong take in
each other no apparent

interest, as if—impossible, on
purpose—to remind how
not everything is

vengeance, not everything
wants reason. The mule
intends nothing of the contrast he

makes inevitably
in a field otherwise all
horses: five of them, four

standing around and nosing
the only one whose flesh, white
entirely, lacks pattern, unless

the light counts,
the only one not standing,
lying with the particular

stillness of between when
a death has occurred
already and when we

ourselves shall have
learned of it. Until then,
that which before was

patternless and not standing
stands up, white, patterned
by the countable light,

the five horses step
into then just past a shy
gallop, the mule

among them, then beside them,
the mule falling in time behind
slightly, not like defeat—don't

think it—like instead one who,
understanding (as a mule
cannot) in full the gravity

of the truth always that he carries
with him, can
afford to pity

honestly a glamour that
extends even to the legs, classical,
on which each horse for now outruns the mule.


Directed by Matthew Thompson.

"Corral" from ROCK HARBOR by Carl Phillips. Copyright © 2002 by Carl Phillips. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All Rights Reserved.