A crumbling relief carved
in a slab of sandstone rock:
a king on horseback,
his fist in a chain-mail glove pressed
against his hip, his winged crown
topped with a ruby moon
held by a cord suspended from heaven.
In front of him another king
prostrate on the ground,
a wounded bird sits quivering
on his wrenched hand,
his crown lies broken
under the horse's hooves
and its ruptured moon
oozes amber juice.
Such cruelty in a victorious king,
in his spear about to thrust
into the fallen king who is begging
seized with fear and disgust;
what indifference in the horse
trampling such a delicate crown
with his gilded hooves!
The sculptor, to save on lapis lazuli
(which would have been stolen anyway)
did not make eyes for all three,
but slit the rock so that the sun and sky
could glare through incessantly.
As the sun shifts
it gushes through the eye sockets
now of this king, now of that one,
now of the horse,
giving them equal passion
and interchanging force,
and when the sun is gone
the tranquil blueness takes its place.
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