The sound of the horse’s earnest labour becomes a whisper,
Sprites of dust at his feet, rush away in fright;
Tired darkened eyes of the driver, hidden under a weathered cloth cap, search into the distance,
Leathered hands, drawn tight on cracked reins, are set determined and firm.
Thunder draws, as a box of steel drives through memories past; fading neon under a body of grime;
A never-ending train of torment races past as cloaking fumes veil the sunlight.
No break in the pace or pattern of their journey;
The horses ears pricked forward in anticipation but eyes lowered from the present.
He draws a hand-painted and beloved wagon, and carries a committed master aboard;
No whip, no anger. Both driving in memoriam for redemption not profit.
The pair turn off the wide road towards their familiar berth;
As fields melt into brick and steel, the familiar cries and laughter of farm labour fade with each milestone passed.
The choke of traffic rises, and each breath thickened with smoke and angst for the awake,
Modernity pauses at each red light as man and horse continue their relentless journey.
Behind them the ghosts of waste and decay stand dancing in their wake,
Where there was once joy and colour now but shades of desperation.
The couple pause where a stone trough once sat but now beset by misshapen and dulled plastic;
Sadness descends as the afternoon ebbs.
Notices of closures on shop windows reveal the present,
Issued by absent landlords but enacted by local agents powered by avarice, under a lace of feigned public mourning.
In a moment the old man’s trusted hand lays firmly on his friend’s neck;
Unseen, they turn and slip away into evening, to try again tomorrow.