Cheryl A. Rice
He said they have a chip on their shoulder,
like midgets, and I wonder
how many midgets my father
has known in real life.
I wonder where a pony’s shoulders are,
and whether or not perhaps
they have a good reason for their
nasty attitude, to be skittish.
In college I knew a girl named Beth,
a very little person in body,
and she was tough, but from Poughkeepsie,
and her brother owned a terrific bar right
across the street from Vassar.
She wanted to go into Special Ed.
For her, defensiveness was a virtue, survival.
For ponies, well, shouldn’t they be
cautious about the bigger boys, about us?
Shouldn’t they nip at us?
My cousins who lived down the block
had a pony named Poco,
Spanish for, “a little”,
and he was a little.
They built a little corral in their backyard
for him, and his own little barn.
We were warned about his attitude,
but my cousins, all boys,
managed him well enough,
adjusted his attitude when necessary
with a rap on the nose, easier with a pony
than a full size horse.
Ponies are good practice for keeping horses.
Sometimes with any horse it’s all about attitude,
tugging the reins to get their attention,
jamming spurs into their sides when they forget to go,
reminding them who holds the scoop,
who opens the bale and gives out the hay,
where apples come from.
My sister collects miniature horses,
small as dogs, and they love her
like all animals love her,
as their source of sweet feed and
They trot like charms around the
bracelet of the fence,
cream and cocoa and honey-colored.
The apples they eat are small.
The fertilizer they make is small,
almost good for house plants.
but their attitudes are pleasant, shy, indifferent.
Maybe they know it’s a lost cause.
Maybe they know they exist
not to work but to amuse.
They are better crafted than any amusement park
robot, no jug band bears,
no tiny Israelis, Poles, Eskimos to distract
from the natural glamour of minis.
Poco would have been a giant among them,
and the only one that could carry the boys home.
Not one cousin could have climbed
on the back of a mini
without some horrible consequence.
Attitude can only take one so far.
Backbone’s required for the rest of the trail.
Founder and host of the Sylvia Plath Bake-Off, Cheryl A. Rice has run her RANDOM WRITING workshops throughout the Hudson Valley. Rice has lived there for over 30 years, after growing up on Long Island. Her poetry blog, Flying Monkey Productions, is at http://flyingmonkeyprods.blogspot.com/.