Sea Horses

Sea Horses is a poetic diary recounting Karen Mulhallen’s time on a remote island at the edge of the great abyss in the high Atlantic. Sable Island, Nova Scotia is home to a band of wild horses and 40,000 seals and an enormous and richly diversified world of plants and invertebrates.

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Horse and Seal

Here two beings with the greatest intimacy
profound, silent.
They never touch.

You might call them
horse and seal
if that is your only language.

And horse and seal
they do appear to be
if bodily form deceive not the eye.

Horse wishes to travel;
Seal wants to be here forever.

Horse despises islands;
Seal has found paradise.

They meet to converse,
talk it over on a dune
overlooking the gentle waves of the north beach.

They meet to discuss differences,
converse from the sand-flats
overlooking the rough breakers of the south.

Horse is lanky, angular; seal is small, smooth.
Horse moves all his joints as he trots.

Seal is quick, moves like the grains of sand.
Horse’s eyes are the colour of the early morning sky;
So are seal’s.

Horse’s coat shimmers silver, so does seal’s.

Horse and seal travel together
and they travel apart.

Horse contemplates the sky, the wind,
the changing light, the planetary spheres,
poetry of line, and filament, and arc,

instruments centuries old
calibrations of wire and rain
hail clouds of cedar waxwings
on the Fischer-Porter precipitation gauge
sun-scorch marks on the cardboard strips
of the Campbell-Stokes recorder.

Seal examines minute forms
carcasses of the elemental: bone, flesh
a dish-shaped nose, a battered wing, a heap of wrack,

a lobster’s claw, a turtle’s head, a dead dolphin,
a beached whale shark, an eyeless trigger fish
: seals, birds, beetles, horse.