Mathew Kirby

The Little Damp Foal

The course of western history has been a little damp foal all these years. We call it Wesley and present it to our old parents when they come up for weddings and baptisms but otherwise leave it to roam in the far field with the goats, from whom it has surely learnt its duplicity and sullen ways. However, because it is still technically the course of western history, we bring it into the woodshed after the first frost, a privilege we would never consider bestowing on those rascally goats. There, in the dead of winter, with snow like mallow plummeting as in a silent film, the youngest among us has been known to break in, clad only in her crocheted pajamas and a scarf, to pet the course of western history and kiss its hoary cheek and clutch it about the neck and whisper to it all the clandestine romances and betrayals that have accompanied the past semester. And if it chatters its milky teeth and rolls its swollen eyes and with sullen pomp blows warm jets of loamy air into the twinkling cold of the woodshed, then the smallest among us can be assured of victory in endeavors of the heart and high standing among her peers in the coming spring, when the dirt melts and the course of western history teeters from among the logs and peat stacks to lumber sullenly in the direction of the far field, there to continue its miseducation among the goats until next frost (unless a wedding or a baptism draws our old parents who coo and stroke it with their withered hands, saying, Oh Wesley, haven't you grown so tall and so handsome with such milky white teeth).

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