The horses’ mouths were always open,
lips strained against invisible bits
that promised no safety if,
suddenly free, they turned in passion
to devour riders, wheeling in an instant
around the poles that pierced their backs,
with serpentine heads, darting and snapping
long teeth, their faces lurid with paint.
As they circled in their jangling dance,
prancing frozen, revolving unendingly,
what hunger gnawed those graceful concave bellies?
What madness joined their savage elegance?
To my parents, it seemed a safe
and gentle ride, neither fast nor high
and full of song and art, but I
thought sending me there betrayal
at worst, adult blindness at best,
for I could see each ride, each turn
bring the horses’ rebellion near
and the reign of the painted beasts.
Then, the equestrians gone, devoured
without a single up-and-down
missed, expressionless they’d circle on,
riderless in the circuit, forever.
Mary Ann Ramey
Mary Ann Ramey has a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. from Columbia University, both in English, as well as graduate degrees in library science and law. She has worked as a librarian, a lawyer, and finally a member of L’Arche, a faith community which creates homes for adults with intellectual disabilities. A retiree, she now focuses on writing poems and short stories.
Artwork: Monkie, public domain