Late December evening, mild as May,
my dog and I take our familiar path,
to the new villas at the edge of town,
glimmering with lights to welcome Christmas in.
On the vacant plot next to the last white house,
a horse is tethered near a half-built wall.
Shadow shifts on shadow and reveals two more,
all three grazing on the weed-frilled ground.
Suddenly a child runs out – from a house? I couldn’t see.
Elfin, blonde curls, maybe eight years old,
she’s wearing red pyjamas and no shoes.
Lit up with intention she flashes past me
across the rock-crumbed field, and
straight to where the horses stand.
Clambering on to the unmade wall,
she sits where she can reach
to pat the biggest horse. Who whinnies
once and then goes on to graze.
It made me smile, she was so blithe and sure
to reach and hold her object of desire.
And wishing she might always make so bold,
I turn and walk the dog the long way home.