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published in Staple 69/70 Summer/Autumn 2008

 

 

The Padfield Horse

     for Sharon Morris

 

My stomach was full of half-digested

food, not quite enjoyed but eaten

for needing food, and I had beer

too, enough to keep me warm.  

 

I tell you this, so you can imagine

the moment when crossing a field

stile after stile, Martin stops, silent,

says, ‘That’s a horse.’ It is white.

 

I have no night-vision; the horse,

standing as still as it can — its ears

flicking, turning; nostrils enlargening —

enfleshes before us. Becomes.

 

If I’d been alone, I might have

missed it or might have thought

it was one of your horses – the ones

from your book — but instead

 

Martin and I crept through grass

to the fence, also white, and offered

the one offering we had — a handful

of Austrian pumpkin seeds.  

 

And that should have been it, except

one image endured: two pilgrims

crossed a thin path marked out

by leylines, the sky dulled by smoke

 

from the village bonfires, to greet

a horse born out of darkness

to materialize for them, its ears

twitching to the hymns of fireworks.

 

But we were not these pilgrims,

we were in awe, yes, but drunk too

and unprepared for feeding horses,

and unprepared for its soft rejection.

 

 

Jacqueline Gabbitas

 

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