This being the holiday season I though you might like this further edited piece from the collection 'A Life in Short Pieces'. It was inspired by a holiday visit made by me and my little family to a Scottish farm in the 1970s. The children enjoyed it and so did I.
The Horse Breaker
Now here is the man. His clanking boots
stamp the tender clover underfoot.
In his wiry brown hand he clutches
a woven leather whip. His weathered face glows
and his black eyes glitter -
ready for the work of his morning
Later today - in his thousand year ritual -
we’ll walk his fields, beat his boundaries,
and check his fences. He’ll point out the ruins
of antique houses, built stone on stone by
his own ancient forbears.
I’ll tramp across the fields by the side
of this man who breaks horses.
The sun is not shining but my face is glowing. I am-
feeling cool but still my features burn.
We stay by a long gate and a bird spins upward
beating its wings in the cool air
The man makes kissing noises, his mouth pursed.
One horse snickers and -steam rising from its flanks -
Canters in our direction across the tussocky field.
The horse’s roughened coat sports a rank shine
and its mouth glitters with sores -
ancient scores, still not settled.
Now two birds spin upwards in
what looks like feral combat -
all fluttering and hoarse chirruping –
a dispute with only one resolution