Hendon, the prairie village where my father bought grain,
where my mother groused at the wood stove while I squirmed
at the kitchen table, all the good pictures done
in my colouring book. I needed to go to school.
“Next year,” she said, “when we move to the city.”
Would we have a car then, I wondered,
something to ride us away to a lake, a river,
a city park with monkey bars and a paddling pool?
When my mother tucked me in for the night
she drew her chair close to my bed, her voice
hardly a whisper as she told of the skyhorse
that would land by my window, its giant wings
settling and folding, its saddle glazed by moonglow
and empty, ’til my foot hit the stirrup and I hoisted
myself onto his back, his wings lifting,
and we rose over the village, the prairie
stretching farther than I’d ever seen, dark
shelterbelts and sloughs gleaming with moonlight,
scattered farm houses, kerosene lamps in their windows.
Stars surrounding us, I gripped the reins, his mane
in my face and the cool night air, his shoulders heaving,
wings rising and plunging as I fell slowly
to sleep. I knew it could happen. Anything
could happen now. The next day
I climbed to the kitchen counter, stretched
for the mason jar on the top shelf, reached
and had it. Took what I was daily forbidden to touch.
I walked away from the village, started the fire
that spread, fanned by giant wings, smoke
rolling, wind driving the flames back toward Hendon.