Behind, ahead,
the dawn, the dusk,
the undimming and the dimming
of the bounded, measured world;
time's unremitting tread.

But that morning as Xau set out,
his horse beneath him,
his men about him,
his wife beside him,
leaving court and capital
for the windblown grass
of the horse country,
day warming round them,
hooves sounding on the road--
that morning on the cusp of summer,
time paused.
Held still.
No cloud could mar Xau's mood,
brimming and overbrimming
as he shared his horse with Suyin,
his youngest,
four years old, going on five,
her hair fresh-washed,
the smell of it,
her laugh.

Behind, ahead,
his crown, his duty,
the large and lesser loads:
the battle's dead,
a child unheld.

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