“The Horse Show”
William Carlos Williams
Constantly near you, I never in my entire
sixty-four years knew you so well as yesterday
or half so well. We talked. you were never
so lucid, so disengaged from all exigencies
of place and time. We talked of ourselves,
intimately, a thing never heard between us.
How long have we waited? almost a hundred years.
You said, Unless there is some spark, some
spirit we keep within ourselves, a life, a
continuing life’s impossible-and it is all
we have. There is no other life, only the one.
The world of the spirits that come afterward
is the same as our own, just like you sitting
there they come and talk to me, just the same.
They come to bother us. Why? I said. I don’t
know. Perhaps to find out what we are doing.
Jealous, do you think? I don’t know. I
don’t know why they should want to come back.
I was reading about some men who had been
buried under a mountain, I said to her, and
one of them came back after two months,
digging himself out. It was in Switzerland,
you remember? Of course I remember. The
villagers tho’t it was a ghost coming down
to complain. They were frightened. They
do come, she said, what you call
my ‘visions.’ I talk to them just as I
am talking to you. I see them plainly.
Oh if I could only read! You don’t know
what adjustments I have made. All
I can do is to try to live over again
what I knew when your brother and you
were children-but I can’t always succeed.
Tell me about the horse show. I have
been waiting all week to hear about it.
Mother darling, I wasn’t able to get away.
Oh that’s too bad. It was just a show;
they make the horses walk up and down
to judge them by their form. Oh is that
all? I tho’t it was something else. Oh
they jump and run too. I wish you had been
there, I was so interested to hear about it.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com