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by April Halprin Wayland

Last night I did not sleep at all. I listened from my bed.
I knew the sound. I knew it, but things jumbled in my head.
Outside, the leaves were pounded by a strong, steady rain.}
I watched the branches moving in the wind: a tangled mane.

illustration © Vera Rosenberry

The rain was pounding, pounding–I thought I saw a horse.
I held my breath–she nosed my window open and the force
Of rain came pouring in. Lightning hit a bough.
She glowed a neon blue. She whinnied to me, “Now.”

I mounted her. My bare feet felt the mist upon her side.
I knew it was just rain; still, I hugged her neck to ride.
We passed my parents’ window; our dog outside on guard
Howled up. We flew! We soared above the darkened yard.

I knew it was just rain; I knew I slept in bed,
Until I felt the wind, until the blue horse said:
“I am a Blue Night Horse–I’ve galloped forty years today.
So, I will rest…and you may pick a star jasmine bouquet.”

I tried to wake up in my room. I knew it was just rain
But the fragrance of the jasmine kept me on the starry plain,
Where other night-gowned children scattered all across the sky
Each child led by a horse; each picking stars, as I.

I saw them. I could not call–the distance was too far.
I was pulled by perfume to a midnight field of stars.
I picked a thousand white bouquets that I would take back home.
I lay them on a moonlit knoll. Then I began to roam.

The night was changing colors. I thought, “Just one more star.”
But when I found the last, another brilliant one not far
Grew up. I picked another and another–each one more amazing.
I wondered where the rain had gone. Then I saw her grazing

On my bouquets! She ate them all. “But why?” I called, “But why?”
Out of breath, I wildly tore across the dawning sky;
I smelled her flowery mouth. She looked at me and said,
“You’re here to feed me stars, although you’re far away in bed.”

Then I heard the rain again–as every other mare
Picked up her child and galloped on the colored morning air.
As my Blue Night Horse and I flew off, I saw the last star wane.
She left me, gently, in my bed…I woke. There was no rain.


Copyright © April Halprin Wayland.
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