Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Child's Sorrow

Horses were turned loose in the child's sorrow.*
They galloped through deep purple 
midnight hours,
whinnying, rearing up on their hind legs,
the noise loud and terrifying, 
a cacophony of fear and adrenalin, 
until she leaped on 
a huge white back,
galloping into oblivion,
a wild midnight ride
come to save her
that she would remember 

Wolves howled in the forest
on that night, 
as she sailed her winged  steed
out of the house of alcohol,
away from the screams, the blows
and crashes,
into the starry sky,
where wizards with kind eyes 
in a magical land,
secret gardens offering soft moss 
for her to rest upon,
with grass for the white horse to eat.

When dawn came, she and the horse
exchanged glances.
They did not want to go back
into the cruel, fighting world
they had left.
Reluctantly, she mounted.
With slowed hooves, 
so sadly,
the mare carried her back 
to her little bed.

When she woke, 
she swallowed her sorrow,
putting on the timid, placating face 
she wore for the adults. 
They all acted as if
the nightime violence
never happened. 
They all pretended
there was no need
for those blazing 
midnight rides. 

Horses were turned loose
in the child's sorrow,
and she rode. 
She rode.
She rode.

* This was the first line of Carolyn Forche's poem, "Sequestered writing" from Blue Hour (NY Harper Collins 2003), used as the first line in Maureen Hynes' poem, "The Horses, the Sorrow, the Umbilicus", The Malahat Review (April 2018).

for my prompt at Real Toads: Piggyback Poems. Take the first line of a poem, giving accreditation to the author, and make it the first line of your poem.

Maureen Hynes' poem can be read there.


  1. oh wow, you've taken that first line, as borrowed by one poet, and who made it her own, and now, you've added another depth and layer to it, using it to further split the off-spring! (does that even make sense?)

    a double-piggyback!

    I think you've really run with the wild horses (the idea is so appealing isn't it) - and how you've carefully crafted words to convey the violence, its affects, the wishing upon stars and wizards and running free - and imagining it to be true ...

    You've really done an excellent job with this idea - and finely crafted a new poem of your own, that is equally powerful and beautiful in its own right.

    And I have to say, I really like the repetition in the ending ... it truly offers us the sense of need, deep-seated, to escape, and in some way, we hope it empowers the small one, and sets her free.

  2. I love the line you've chosen and was thinking about it myself, but it's so wonderful I figured it would be a popular choice. 'deep purple midnight hours' is a phrase that leaped out at me, as well as the lines:
    'galloping into oblivion,
    a wild midnight ride'.
    What an escape from the house of alcohol! What a dream!

  3. I gravitated toward that line but chose another - you've made a beautifully sad poem - and the ending is quite amazing - For all those children that hopefully can hang on until help or time arrives when they can escape.

  4. Poor baby. A really sad reminder for us, many don't have horses' help to ease their pain. Note, my lass also had a helping horse, no sad thoughts entered.
    Thanks for the nice prompt idea, I like Piggyback Poem play.

  5. Wonderful story telling. Beautifully crafted

  6. Heartbreaking. Especially the wolves and the sad child and horse. You really made this line your own. I wonder how many children live through the violence of the night and give that face to the adults.

  7. Oh, this is so saddening. To find some comfort galloping through the night is beautiful, but that is also a mark of a troubled psyche where reality has to be escaped because of its abject horrors. So many childhoods are lost this way. A thoughtful and thought-provoking write, Sherry. To take that line and draw such a sensitive verse from it is a job well done.

  8. I can imagine the scene as a child hears her parents row and fight so buries her head in her pillow and imagines she can escape on a horse she's been reading about in a book, so that she doesn'y have to be part of the hurt. Beautifully written Sherry.

  9. "They all pretended
    there was no need
    for those blazing
    midnight rides. "
    so evocative of the disturbance that alcohol abuse has on the family and the only way a child can flee, using only the imagination

  10. Wolves howled in the forest
    on that night,
    as she sailed her winged steed
    out of the house of alcohol

    This is a brilliant example of how poems give rise to poetry and words to new uses of the same. Your piece is inspired, Sherry.

  11. How wonderfully you made this your own!

  12. Oh this is so sadly true for far too many children -- living in abusive homes whether from physical or emotional abuse, addiction, depression. Her dream is a lovely escape, so soft and nourishing on the wings of a beautiful steed. Would that all children could make their pain disappear in the day and well as night.


I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!