At dawn’s pink tinge we heard the bell,
unzipped from sleeping bags to pull
ourselves from bunks, iced feet to planks,
donning sweatshirts. The cabin door banged
as we ran to climb the corral fence,
perched and watched the saddles cinched.
We mounted and filed,
our horses nose to rump, spilled
down the bank. The air pinked
our cheeks as, for an hour, we gripped
with wobbly knees, then slowed and wove
through oaks, dismounting to throw
the reins over pommel, tied a slip
knot to a tree and hobbled up the slope
to a tiny house. Aunt Faith awaited,
her silver curls like snail shells, tight
to her head. She beckoned us in to blue
china on an oak table. We knew
what to do, marched to the sink
to scrub, then sat to wink
at Bo, who eyed the waffle stacks.
We sang grace, Aunt Faith taking
the lead with her birdy warble.
Into melted butter, we spiraled
syrup; well-water quelling
our maple tongues, piling
the dishes, we took our leave,
weaving back. Not five
minutes in, Bo, on Sir William, passed a hollow
trunk, jumped down and lifted a yellow
boulder above his head, smashing
it down as we watched, gasping
to see the coil of snake, felt the shimmy
of horses beneath us, their high whinny
foretelling that the morning ride,
sharp as the clang of its bell, would not fade.
Music professor Joanna White has works in: Examined Life Journal, Healing Muse, MacGuffin, Measure, Sow’s Ear, Earth’s Daughters, Dunes Review, KYSO Flash Anthologies, Cherry Tree, and The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), among others. Her first collection, Drumskin and Bones, will be published (Salmon Press, Ireland) March 2021.