In Arlington National Cemetery
We learned about the bronze bodies
Of horses and soldiers on top of horses
On top of solid blocks of granite.
The horse’s postures tells us,
Our social studies teacher said,
If the rider died in battle
Or was only wounded.
An angry horse with both front legs
raised high conveys a death in battle.
One leg lifted like a snapped branch
Indicates a wound during service.
Later I heard that the horse code
Is not consistent throughout graveyards.
But to this group of one hundred
Eighth graders, equestrian symbols of dying
Loomed up from the ground like mountains
Sprung up from stony, gnarled roots
And white headstones rose from the gums of earth
In infinite, gapped rows like baby teeth.