I remember when the unicorns
roved in herds through the meadow
behind the cabin, and how they would
lately pause, tilting their jewelled
horns to the falling sun as we shared
the tensions of private property
and the need to be alone.
Or as we walked along the beach
a solitary delicate beast
might follow on his soft paws
until we turned and spoke the words
to console him.
It seemed they were always near
ready to show their eyes and stare
us down, standing in their creamy
skins, pink tongues out
for our benevolence.
As if they knew that always beyond
and beyond the ladies were weaving them
into their spider looms.
I knew where they slept
and how the grass was bent
by their own wilderness
and I pitied them.
It was only yesterday, or seems
like only yesterday when we could
touch and turn and they came
perfectly real into our fictions.
But they moved on with the courtly sun
grazing peacefully beyond the story
horns lowering and lifting and
I know this is scarcely credible now
as we cabin ourselves in cold
and the motions of panic
and our cells destroy each other
performing music and extinction
and the great dreams pass on
to the common good.
The Days of the Unicorns, Phyllis Webb (1980)
Author's Note: "'paws': dream overlap of lion and unicorn."
(The photos are mine, and they come from my finally finished website, here.
The poem is not mine, but it is among the many I am taking to grace my dorm room bulletin-board.)