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Sport 15: white horse black dog

Red-letter Day

page 118

Red-letter Day

Horseshit all over the place, roughage rich
khaki cakes. A cold

in off the sea, off
Pegasus Bay reddens

the knees and jowls of families displayed
by the grandstand.

Tinytots like sparrows flock round
the dancer with the band Barock (geddit?)
got up in a glittery gold pixie suit
to entertain between races.
Gepetto’s dolls they skip
skirts pinched between fingertips
then flee into the ground like mown grass.

A middleaged couple makes a huge

effort to have a good time. Waylays
the underpinning niggle of malice with

an icecream in one hand, a tailormade
in the other. From within the stand
at each race announcement
three floors of bars empty; the band
kills the music


page 119

range in the binoculars over the 2000
metre mark. The small
slow horses enter
the home straight, punters rush the rail
slap of leather on hide, hooves
over the heavy track
gudda da gudda da gudda
clunk of the shutter inside
the winning post, like a test-your-strength
gong at a carnival


Yellowed dailies, shonky stiffs, cartwheel
across the windswept showgrounds.

While no one is looking
the countryside lifts itself on an elbow
to check the coast is clear
then zephyrs past a dilapidated totalizator
jumps the drinks tent
and hides behind hay bales again.

By the card’s last race it will have completely
occupied the course.
Thereafter it infiltrates the town
which had all but forgotten its origin
by accompanying the families to their doorsteps
and sills of sleep.