Twenty-three

Behind the door, stars. Seven for the harness, holder of horse, courage of rider. Six for the spurs on his boots. “A well-placed inducement may win one the battle,” say the cavalry, flat on their backs. They are kept down by clod and the past.

Five for the shield in his right fist. It was a book once, in earlier fables. Three for her handkerchief, salt-stained, slapped about by wind and speed. To eyes in distant times, it will hold his sandwiches (the memory of war fades, but there is always lunch).

Two for the parents, whose fault it was.

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