Remember the Horses

By Maj Mary-Ann Martinek

Wading into a raging sea
All the horses swam to me
From the beaches
Where they’d stood alone
My faithful friends
Wanted to go home.

I saw them coming
But not at trot
I saw them struggling
I saw them shot
My faithful friends
Turn back and flee
My faithful friends
Don’t swim to me.

Their strong, long legs
Thundered through
The salty waters
They did not know
The ships were faster
Than the horses
And soon
Their familiar and determined faces
Could no longer
Be seen from where I stood.

But they didn’t
Turn around and flee
From that sea
The horses swam
Towards the sun
They swam because
They could not run
They swam in company
They swam abreast
To their final conflict
Their last test.

I watch the clouds
From where I sit
And remember those moments
On that ship
As horses shot and drowned at sea
Had tried to follow
And be with me
They had not stopped for bullet blast
Were trained too well to remain in cast
By we
Their masters, their mates, their friends
Who were made to watch each short life end.

I watch the clouds again with love
I see the horses riding above
Their manes and tails flicking free
All the horses had come with me
Their hooves were silver and their manes were gold
Some still swam to that sun of old
The raging sea had not taken them
Their instincts strong had found their men
Because there I saw the emu plumes
On slouch hatted figures amid the gloom
I recognised those faces, freed
Of all the men who rode with me.

From a world now peaceful and very still
They rode their horses home with skill
And now I know that when I die
My faithful friend will be my guide
With saddle ready and stirrups low
My faithful friend will take me home.

Together we’ll ride the clouds of mist
And remember no more
The memories of those ships
I’ll ride the nights with mates long gone
We’ll be together, we’ll be strong
The stars will fall and blanket the earth
And mark our hoof prints in the turf.
For we are free and ride your sky
Concealed by clouds, we pass you by
So little children
Try to spy
Our shadowy figures as we glide by
For amidst the clouds
In skies of red
Gallop the spectres of your dead.