[The feature image is of my Dad with his favourite horse: Sunset Lee M – Dad was known to sleep in the stall with Sunset on the odd occasion.]
This poem—Narragansett Dark—was written by Norah Pollard, 2003, for her father “Red” Pollard – Seabiscuit’s jockey. Dad memorized this poem in its entirety.
They led the horses away,
They tore down the fences,
The wrecking ball brought down
the grandstand, the clubhouse,
They plowed under the track kitchen,
The tack shop, the bettors’ windows,
They burned the green barns
When there was nothing of Narragansett
but a great empty space, the moon
glittered over it like a Vegas sign
and the wind blew dust across
900 acres to the Newport Armistice roads.
The next day they paved.
Back asphalt covered the scent
of hay and the horse.
They built a drugstore,
a store for linoleum, and they
threw up subdivisions, aqua and mustard
and pink, whose mailboxes rusted
before they were sold.
Then they built a nursing home
Where now the old jockey lay in a narrow bed.
He did not know where he was
so the irony was lost on him,
but he knew his wife would come
and wash him and light him a cigarette,
and put the swatches of cotton
between his toes and pour him
a small cup of blackberry brandy.
Long nights alone, after the TV was
shut off and the brandy gone,
he’d listen for something.
All the long, dark nights, listening.
One night a lean, March wind
rattled the gate and his heart labored
in his breast and he rose up,
for he heard what he heard-
their soft nickering and blowing, the thin
rustle of silks, the creak
of saddle and the tick
of hoof on stone.
And he left the bed and went out
to where they stood in the grasses
He stood before them and
their breath fell on him like cloud
and he saw their great eyes pool the moon.
And the one waiting for him,
the one with an empty saddle,
was a bay.
He mounted up and they rode under the moon
and the wind flared the mane of his horse
and was hard and clean on his fact.
The others galloped on either side, silently,
as if they were running on moss or flowers,
and he went with them where they took him
into the fields of night.
Miss you Dad ❤