One day, a Shetland pony appeared in our back lot, by the fence where the woods once stood. My father, no animal man, tethered it there. I’d heard that other children craved such a creature to the point of tears, and a beating.

It was beautiful, with its blond bangs and thick back.

I watched it for awhile, after coming home from school, where I’d used to hide in the trees when we played Ghost.

In three days, a man in a pick-up hauled it off.

Thirty years later, I tell this story at the shelter, to a girl who’s run away, like that pony. I tell it to get close to her as she rolls damp clay from “art hour” over the poem she’s penciled out but will not read.

She doesn’t care how many “participation points” the staffer on duty might take away. Her poem, imprinted on the clay, rolls over itself, jumbling.

“You ain’t lyin’, are you?” she asks, looking at me at last, her voice pathetic without its kicking.

I want her to hear her poem.

I see the panicked whites of the pony’s eyes as the man approached it with sugar and a bridle, the man with a whip in his cab.

Published online at Superstition Review