Ian Parks – “Horse Fair”

Horse Fair

Lost son, I met your double
in a distant market town.
I was there to watch the horses
racing through the narrow streets,
to see them gather on the shingle bank
and swim in the Eden river.
And there you were as if by chance
in among the milling press,
the smell of horses, their hot flanks.
The mares and foals and stallions
all blinking in a summer haze
and tethered there together.
He had you off by heart:
the freckle where your shoulder met your neck,
the calf-lick on your crown,
his hands, his eyes the same.
The child you were was looking up at me,
asking if it was alright to stroke
the soft pink muzzle nudging at the fence;
to reach across the space between and touch.
The bare-back riders plunged into the stream.
The sun stood still and blazing,
And Yes I nodded yes it is
while trying not to speak your name.

Ian Parks is the author of eight collections of poems, one of which was a Poetry Book Society Choice. He is the editor of Versions of the North: Contemporary Yorkshire Poetry (Five Leaves Publications, 2013) and The Selected Poems of Harold Massingham (Calder Valley Poetry, 2021). His own Selected Poems is due from Calder Valley Poetry.

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