day is summer’s horse, called Skin
whose smooth mane shines bright
over my spiral horned cows
and black faced sheep chewing cud,

drags their shadows over fresh
grass like a dark memory,
ahead of cold night’s black mane,
nuzzle foam flecks fall as dew

as I recall yonks ago
a promise I makes to boss
of these riches and a blue
dun stallion gallops pasture.

My promise that if any
other man than me or Boss
rides this horse called Boss’s Mane,
I’ll know, find them and kill them.

I hires Lone Soldier, eldest
son of my neighbour, who makes
promise lad is hard worker
and no flibbity gibbit.

Everyday Lone takes my
black faced sheep to safe pasture
returns them come that evening,
cuts fire wood, looks after Boss’s

Mane and his 12 mares, I tell
him about my promise, that
he can use other horses
for whatever, whenever.

Lone agrees ” Very fair deal.”
and promises to do his
best, and pulls his rag out
for whole of sweated summer,

but one day, some sheep flit off
he can’t find them anywhere,
he scours fields for entire week,
so ragged, he goes to the mares,

to ride one to search yonder
fields, but when he turns up, all
mares scatter, only Boss’s
Mare stand stock still as a stone.

If he rides it his promise
not to will be broken, if
he decides not to, his vow
to care for farm is broken.

Lone ponders that to keep one
promise must break another,
reckons as sheep more valued
and only way to find sheep

is on Boss’s Mane, judges
as riding him back in time
I’ll never know about this.
On Boss’s he finds lost sheep.

returns all sheep to their place,
doing his job as always.
And as not needed Boss’s
gallops all way home to me,

till near my farm, I see him
sodden with sweat, steam rises
off his flanks like mist off a
morning lake, muddy, panting,

so I know someone has ridden him
and it weren’t Boss, so I goes
with an axe in search of Lone,
and after long chat, I asks

“Did you ride Boss’s Mane?” He
couldn’t deny it, so tells
me the truth. “Thas done well in
telling truth. I would forgive

thee but I’m bound by promise,
and when promises are made,
bound to be kept, as you know.”
so I kills him with my axe

make a decent grave for him.
Lone’s father weren’t happy.
Tha can’t break thee promises,
no matter hassle tha has.

night is winter’s horse, called Frost
who’s rime mane darkens more
over my spiral horned cows
and black faced sheep chewing cud.

© Paul Brookes

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