from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Lost Species poem 26: Sally Douglas

When I was a child, Przewalski's horse, the successor or even continuation, I think, of the prehistoric horse, in my Observer book of horse breeds used to fascinate me. (What I didn't know then was that not long after I first saw its pictures it became extinct in the wild.)

So I was delighted to receive this poem from Devon poet Sally Douglas:


(Przewalski's Horse)

I wanted to follow the paths of the Yellow Horse.
For he was born in the night
and in the morning was ready to run.
For with his father’s teeth at his tail
he could run forever.
So I placed a single fingertip
in the well-trodden furrows
that led from feeding ground to sleep,
and the bone grew wide and round. 

I wanted to follow the paths of the Yellow Horse.
For his shadows are on the cave wall.
For he can hear the quiet stars.
So with my hard wide fingertip
I dug through ancient laminations of snow.

I wanted to follow the Yellow Horse.
With all that was left – my single fingertip –
I traced the map of his tracks.
But could not feel.

© Sally Douglas

(From Candling the Eggs, Cinnamon Press, 2011)

Sally says: Przewalski's horse, or the Dzungarian horse, is a rare and endangered wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia. It was, from the late 1960s, extinct in the wild, but after a captive breeding programme it has been re-introduced into its natural habitat. There is now believed to be a population of about three hundred horses in Mongolia. A group was also introduced into the Chernobyl exclusion zone in 1998, and is thought to be increasing in size.

Przewalski's horse has never been domesticated and remains the only true wild horse in the world today. 


  1. Beautiful poem. Made me think of those amazing cave paintings.

  2. Yes, me too Angie. I've written a series of poems and painted a sequence based on those cave horses from my now-several visits to the incredible Pech-Merle caves in the Lot.

    I thought Sally captured something quite - well, HOOFY, in this one.


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