Wouldn’t be dead for quids

Wouldn’t be dead for quids

There are two horses in the paddock next to the wetlands, in front of the aged care home and the cement factory. They lean out over the top wire hoping for school children with apples. Old racers, they run along with the occasional ambulance, rear and hind kick with the thump of the crusher. Most of the time they browse over the field, the grass so short it is green ice, yet they go through the daily journal of it, seeking news of the season. They let the kids rub their forehead, arms stretched up, hands flat and tender; blow snot on them, suddenly impatient, run through the gully, sending the wallabies skeeting. They lie asleep in a dusty patch, legs going, eyelids fluttering, rippling like fast water over smooth rocks, then heads up, quick, aware of the world now around them. They come to the fence, sometimes, if you call, sometimes if you don’t. One, a gelding, has chewed the top of every post, down to the high rung, and likes to wrap its tongue over a wrist, and pull, lulling into a bite over knuckle, if you don’t know what is coming. The mare pushes him, hard to the neck, as if to say, enough, no gain there. On hay day, they go into the small yard, and stand their calendar haunches out to the road, pretending not to care, even when the owner pulls up, and drops the ute back bar to unload. Only on the second throw, do they come about, dismissing him as they turn away with each mouthful.  At the end of feeding, when evening lapses into night, and rain has woken the swamp, crossing over the beach road, I stand against the rails, shoulders to the lea, not to intrude. We listen to the barracking frogs, the slow breaking of the cello string in their throats, the moon full marsh alight with animal murmur. The horses hear other things, but stand idle, either side of me. We breathe slowly, watching an echidna fend a memory between us and where it wants to go. We turn our heads to where the sound of a tea tree falling, raises a flutter of wagtails. Later, they seem immobile there when I look back, watching, considering, unmoving, until the manes shake, bidding me away.

Two rescues at the old place. The horses written about, are both tall bays.

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