There’s an exhibition at the Tower of London, Five Hundred Years of Armor and Arms; today, I imagined a war horse in plate shed its paint and plaster, smashed through a life-size vinyl poster, and kicked a man’s skull in. There was one half-moon hoof print of blood on the cement walkway below the broken window, and cameras clicked, apertures yawning for light and the rounded patterns of crushed gravel.
I was watching the Queen’s ravens. They were nothing like the raptors we saw years ago, ancient eyes and hook-beaked. They clip the wings of the birds here. They look civilized, cultivated, not like ours, shrieking and pulling against their tresses, settling into false night when hooded with a deft hand. Legend says if the ravens fly away, the crown and Britain will fall. I don’t think it’s the ravens they should worry about. It was the horse they should have tethered. But, I don’t know if anything should be restrained anymore. Can be, even. What would we be if we were naked and primal without a concept of being chained?
I watched the horse as it thumped from the White Tower, rearing up in the middle of a troupe of Shakespearean actors in period dress, throwing up clumps of dirt with hollow, unshod hooves. It charged through the Byward Tower gate, foam at its nose and mouth, and then jumped into the river Thames. All of us were shrieking and crying and it’s a terrible thing to watch a horse drown, even one that was never truly alive. Weighed down by steel, eyes rolling to streaked clouds, screaming unnaturally, hair wet against its neck. And then, its nose, grey and soft, flaring and disappearing under the surface.
I told you that when I got divorced, I realized I had become someone else for my ex-husband. I’d suppressed the fairytales and night-wide eyes and when I came back into myself, I swore I’d never change for anyone again. Now I find myself quietly monotonous, metronome of fluorescent lights and wild flowers and sometimes, I fear I’ve caged myself in, been tamed again, rendered docile by a mad artist’s hands.
Gwendolyn Edward retains a MA in creative writing from the University of North Texas where she was the editor of North Texas Review and worked as a reader and non-fiction contest coordinator for American Literary Review. She is now pursuing a MFA at Bennington and also works as assistant non-fiction editor for Fifth Wednesday. Her nonfiction has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, The Citron Review, Beetroot, Gravel, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. Her poems appear in Fourth River and The Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast, and her speculative fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including Bourbon Penn.