Hip­pocrene

Room Magazine - - CON­TENTS - EL­LIE SAWATZKY

— af­ter John St­ef­fler’s “That Night We Were Rav­en­ous”

Late July out­side St. Isi­dore, sum­mer heat creak­ing in the ap­ple trees. Fol­low­ing the path to our tent—sil­ver slug-eye glint of wet gravel, wind in grass and leaves, hills, trees, wilted dur­ing the day by heat and hang­over, back to shak­ing shaggy back­sides while thun­der thumped and strobe light­ning out­lined the barn ahead, a DJ in a farm­yard night­club—some

bit of bright­ness sep­a­rated from the rest and leapt to­ward us, maybe a preen­ing posse of snowy owls, maybe a Great Dane with a hairdo, it was a

filly, wild child, free from sleep, weird with elec­tric­ity. She charged out of the night buzzing and trip­ping, lines and stars, a fine piece of sky. We tried

to back away—grace­less, stiff—but she pranced cir­cles around us in plat­form heels.

She was the wheel of a wagon rolling loose, she struck us down.

She was a mu­si­cal ride es­caped from the trav­el­ling fair of our child­hoods. She re­mem­bered us.

She coursed and sput­tered.

Her eyes were like eyes watch­ing whirlpools, like blos­soms blos­som­ing. Like el­e­va­tor doors open­ing to the four hun­dred and forty-fourth floor.

She was warm, thun­der­storm-scented, she nudged us like we were trees.

She made us wish we were dust on the smooth fab­ric of her stom­ach, she made us sweat.

She made us stut­ter. She was a cage full of fight.

A wil­low of a girl in a white dress. Shy, we whis­pered en­chanté, of­fered our hands.

She could have can­tered across the coun­try.

She was head­strong rel­a­tive of rhino. Still, she’d been lured by ap­ples, blue­grass. Sold her soft body for room and board. She was re­named by Jac­ques Cartier. Claimed and claimed.

Men had tried to tame her. Horse-god­dess, she’d worn a gold bri­dle and sipped from a bucket. Paced be­hind an elec­tric line.

Now, stripped bare.

A piece of the prov­ince, rivers con­nect­ing lung-and-liver-shaped lakes.

She was a sashay­ing al­le­gory. She was bones and ash. She was some­one, not just some­one’s daugh­ter.

She slipped through our fin­gers. We drank hastily, gasp­ing, splash­ing our faces. We shed our denim, rinsed each other’s skin.

That night, we slid in one sleep­ing bag, our bod­ies spark­ing blue bolts of static in the dark.

That night, we slept sweetly.

In our dreams, she was a ves­sel filled with birds. We touched her side, felt them flutter.

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