All the Mari's Parties

By Mat Joiner

It's no fit weather, no fit time, for a fleshless horse to ride—

but she's clad for parties: trailing ribbons and bells,

a bedsheet-cloak; her eyes the greenest bottle-ends

that ever saw out an old year or midwifed a new.

Her bone-beaked head is all a-grin with

the laugh that outlives both mares and men.

With hobnailed boots (so much better than hooves)

she strikes sparks from the street;

demanding entry from each merrisome home.

A duel of insults, from without and within, will turn the key.

The Grey Mare knows all your secrets. Let her in;

hold a bowlful of beer up to her sprung jaws

and she'll bless you for a twelvemonth.

Your past rides her onto the next house, and the next,

until, saddled with time and harnessed by ale,

she canters to unknown meadows between the winters:

a grazing beyond the bells of the new.

But you know some roads will always lead her back—

make her welcome.

This poem was part of our 2012 fund drive bonus issue! Read more about Strange Horizons' funding model, or donate, here.

Mat Joiner is a fantasy writer based in the English Midlands. He is drawn to ghosts, greenery, and canals. His short stories and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Not One Of Us, Sein Und Werden, and Through The Gate.


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