Carried Away

 

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.