Saturday, May 18, 2024

Pit Ponies And Fireflies

April 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Poetry

I crept out of bed quietly, when the house was asleep,

Then out the back door, and up into my tree,

This was the way to watch the fireflies play.

I settled down to creep into the lives of those not sleeping.

The screech of a Vixen, like a maiden in terror,

Such a strange way to summon a lover,

But it must be the strongest to make her a mother.

It was then that I saw them, on the brow of the hill,

Dark shapes of such beauty, in black silhouette;

The proud black stallion, long main flowing,

His brood behind him, following.

Maybe a hundred horses, the young and the old,

So wild, so free, going to rest in some secret place.

The scene so intense, the fireflies forgotten,

They could not match the spectacular sight,

Of so many horses tossing their heads in the night.

I dawdled to school one morning later, still thinking,

And scheming how to observe without causing fright,

Those graceful, coal black creatures I saw.

Then I heard shouting and cracking of whips,

And the sound of unshod hoofs, on hard tarmac tapping,

Then, they came into sight, and in place of their leader

Rode a man on a horse demanding they follow,

With two more behind, whistling and shouting,

Lashing their whips from left and to right.

Eyes glaring, nostrils flaring, open mouths frothing,

Bodies all flecked with their sweat and their spittle.

I drew back in horror as they passed in terrified flight,

Could these be the beautiful creatures I had seen in the night?

Rounded up, herded into pens they waited

Listening to the clank of shunted cattle trucks.

The weaker horses stood, heads bowed in defeat,

But a few raised their!s high to neigh defiance,

All longed for the freedom of firefly hill,

But they were now part of a human cash crop.

I stayed with them for all of that morning-

Schoolboys are right to rebel when they are in grief:

For those sweet creatures were doomed, some to go blind

Deep in the earth, where men and horse mined.

That night as I watched the fireflies flitted;

They did not excite me, I wanted to see

That proud black stallion with all that remained

Of his large family, still running wild and always free.

I never saw him again, but I heard him that night,

His snorting and stamping and anxious whinnies.

His neighing drifted down on the darkness it stirred.

As he searched and pleaded in vain for the rest of his herd.

Now as I grow older, I still think of them,

Deep underground in the stale air and dust.

Do they still think of their sweet life on the hill?

When they see lights on human heads nodding,

As they toil together, the fireflies mocking.

And is that the sound of a vixen’s screech?,

Or the scream of a human under a rock fall?

There are no winners, just losers in the underground hell,

Where day means night and all day all night.

Does some kind collier with work worn hands

Gently wash off the dust and the grime

To let them breathe freer and see just a bit?

Think kindly of me as you leave me behind,

For I cannot help you, except in my mind.

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