i lived four doors down from a pre-teen equestrian called lauren,
who had dozens of little prize ribbons stuck
on a corkboard in her pastel and frilly bedroom
i’d envy the ribbons and think to myself
what pretty prizes
how does she get them
i want them
(at this point in my life the only thing i’d ever won
was a selection box at a christmas pantomime)
she took me to the stables with her one day
i decided i didn’t care about dressage ribbons
the stench and their veiny eyes and white foamy sweat on their horse thighs
their teeth, somewhere in the small part of myself that was just discovering vanity
reminded me of my own.
crooked and longer than their faces
tongues the length of a little girl’s arm.
the stench, too. the stench.
seeing them and smelling them for the first time
i felt betrayed by all those toy companies
you know the ones
(they were in cahoots with santa claus)
(they showed ma and da how to answer every birthday wish)
they presented me with collectable ponies the size of your hand
in plastics of all the colours that little girls see the world in
minty greens tender lilacs
pink pink pink
with glimmery rainbow manes and a tail that you could brush
and tiny pictures on their round cute pony bums
that when you scratched would smell like bananas or strawberries
they had names like cherries jubilee or lickety split
eyes that glittered with that glorious toy loyalty
i’m your best friend, girl
i’ll be there right by your side
they’d sing through their hard smiling lips
no oats or hay or water with dead flies in it for dinner
these ponies ate only clouds and truffles and macaroons
their delicate shoebox houses with crayon wallpaper designed by my child hands
smelled of potpourri stolen carefully in pockets
from the bowls in nana’s good room
for these ponies did not sweat. or piss.
all they left behind was ever glitter, and wishes
and a sudden sense of terrible sadness in your gut
when you realize that was 15 years ago.
and real horses live in stables and are still bigger than you and you were just too scared of them to learn how to win ribbons like lauren down the road
now you’re 22 and they still look like monsters
and could still kick you to death.