The man who tends the miniature horses wears a ten-gallon hat. Strokes sideburns that won’t quit. Called, the collie-sized horses come galloping across the frosty meadow. They have a visitor. A child resembling my sister—auburn hair in a pixie cut—holds out a wedge of apple. The horses sniff, throw their heads, then sidestep away. So you’ll know for next time, Missy, the man tells her, they only like the red apples.
The girl’s gone. The man’s gone. My sister’s long dead. And in the dark, the horses’ tails flicker like lamp wicks, sputtering light against a stone wall. Ever faster, the flying dark, and by dawn, the horses move as wandering gold leaves beneath black trees. Surely after a word from our sponsor, the girl will return with the perfectly sliced ruby apples so the prancing roan horse will let her ride him, although of course they’ll need a brocade saddle and silver reins to traverse the jagged and yet unnamed mountains.
[Refer: This story put the editors in mind of the poem “Radium Springs” by Shelia Black.]
Image by BGarrett
Nance Van Winckel’s newest books are Ever Yrs., a novel in the form of a scrapbook, and Pacific Walkers, her sixth collection of poems, which was a finalist for the 2014 Washington State Book Awards. A book of visual poetry is forthcoming in 2016 from Pleiades Press. The recipient of two NEA Poetry Fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner, she has new poems in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, Field, Poetry Northwest, and Gettysburg Review. She is on the MFA faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts and a Professor Emerita in E. Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers.