Rules of Equestrian Statues
by Maggie Rosen

Ignore the rumors that Washington is weak, vulnerable. Many defenses remain stalwart:

Fort Reno, Fort Stevens,

Centrifugal guns ready to fire at enemies from land or river,

Men on bronze horses keep everlasting watch.

Mcpherson, an apt hybrid: a warrior astride an old boy made from a melted cannon.

Andrew Jackson, horse rearing, waves his hat to swat flies or tourists in Lafayette Park.

Sheridan’s horse grimaces at the heat and smog.

My car crawls down Georgia Avenue, the balloon stent

to an artery clogged with beer and deep fried fish,

The pawn/lottery/moneywiredanywhere/jerkchicken/Dominican hair/ places

Jostle down the hill to Logan Circle. This was

Camp Barker, an old horses’ stable that became

home to slaves who ran from Maryland and Virginia, until the malaria

Chased them back to Arlington after the war.

In Adams Morgan, near the zoo,

gardeners found the cemetery where thousands of freedmen lay

the choosing itself a new right and ritual.

When it rains, the basil and dill erode, the bones unearth.


There are apocryphal horse statue rules: a foot in the air and the rider’s dead,

Four feet on ground a death in peace.

The rules don’t apply in Washington:

whether the man or horse is running, riding or lying down,

The fate is still complex, unending, a meandering story that all of us own.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 2.

placesaver2Maggie Rosen lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.   She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her poems have been published or are upcoming in Conclave, Barely South, Blood Lotus, qarrtsiluni, Sow’s Ear, Minimus, and Plainsongs. She has worked as an education writer and teacher of English to speakers of other languages.

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