Pinto - Poem by Sheena Blackhall
Next to a field of cabbages they camped –
Grandfather let them. The fee was always a horse.
Farm boys turned and sweated in their sleep
Dreamed of hitched skirts, the fork of gypsy legs
Foreign flesh in the fever of high summer.
Structural damage was done to unsound marriages
Herd girls were born wearing Egyptian eyes
Mothers tightened their curfews, locked their coops.
When the travellers left, assisted or unassisted
Pinto remained, half mule, half circus horse,
Aunt Sally or honest bargain fairly met.
He ate the stars in the meadow, moon carrot, pig nut
A hornless unicorn, incarnate obstinacy,
A fearful perverse symmetry on hooves.
He’d kick both man and cart, an equine upstart,
Fit for dogs’ meat unless he’d mend his ways.
My father vowed he’d make him take the bit
The weather forecast, thunderbolt and lightening
Such eyes of smoky quartz, such smouldering flame
Some things are hard to tame.
Then the gloved hand, the kiss, the harness of silver,
Pinto becalmed, an island softly neighing
Under his belly, my father lit a fire.
Singed, the creature moved to a master’s will
A wing-clipped Pegasus
Learning that stubborn acts may carry consequences.
My father was head of the house, kind to a fault
Nobody challenged him, or sat above his salt.
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