by Mary Oliver
When the Pony Express needed
riders, it advertised
a preference for orphans–
that way, no one was likely
to ask questions when the carriers failed
to arrive, or the frightened ponies
stumbled in with their dead
from the flanks of the prairies.
This detail from our country’s past
has no particular significance–it is only
a footnote. There were plenty
of orphans and the point of course
was to get the mail through, so the theory
was sound. And besides,
think of those rough, lean boys–
how light and hard they would ride
fleeing the great loneliness.
You can find this in Swan: Poems and Prose Poems.