Friday, 6 December 2013

Hopeland (Notes from Corsica): 22: The Heat of Horses

22: The Heat of Horses

He sat barefoot in the garden, bewildered by the industry of birds: a chuckling chorus of secret signals, a riot of flight.
Squinting through a silhouette of branches his eye drifted skyward to a pair of red kites circling the morning haze with idle intent.
Spectral clouds lay quiescent, punctured by vapour trails bound for wider worlds. He traced their progress with a trembling finger, conjuring potent meaning from that totemic sky, before the vertigo of longing brought him back down to earth.
Beyond the hedge, a shifting of shadows, a familiar feral scent.
He saw the steam rising from their backs long before their bodies came into view.
The horses never came to his beckoning but he always held their eye.
He loved the heat of horses.
As a boy he would hug their necks and steal their breath while they delicately nipped peppermints from his palm.
He’d carry their stink on his fingers all day.
At night he would dream of dappled flanks and sour green apples.
His story was now a potent past, truth distilled.
Its refined energy taunted these pallid dolorous days.
These days he only had one dream.
He was a boy, running, and his feet made the sound of hooves.
The guitar rested idly on his lap and he hugged its walnut body to his belly, his fingers finding familiar shapes on the ebony board.
The strings were old and dull.
He would boil them later in vinegar.
“You never write me letters”, she had said the night before.
Before the argument.
After the whiskey.
He tested the dew with his toe and reluctantly opened his note pad. Good thinking, bad spelling, too many words.
She’d asked for flowers and, he offered water.
Reaching for his coffee cup he drank the tepid dregs, taking pleasure from the bitterness.
‘Soon all of this will end and ne’er begin again’ he muttered testing the air.
Turning his back to the circling shadows he sat square, found a chord and started his song.

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