Steeds of Autumn

by Todd H. C. Fischer

The wicker horse sits
on the farm house veranda
beside a straw-stuffed suit of clothes
on a porch-swing
corn stalks tied to the railing with bailing rope
and grinning gourds with brains of flame
Its black bead eyes gaze out over the fields
watching hands and tractors gathering
the harvest
Smells waft through the screen door
pumpkin pie, roasting turkey, tart cranberries
Time passes and the hands march past
wash earth from callused hands and
throw on clean clothes
A woman stops by the horse, holding a
kern baby fashioned from the
last corn cob of the harvest
She takes down the withered dolly from the past year
replacing it with the new
She rests one hand on the horse’s head
looks at the yellow trees, her
breath pluming
in the cool autumn air
then steps back inside

The wicker horse remembers years past
many years
to racing men
men in bronze breastplates and leather skirts
roaring across the land in chariots
pulled by foaming flesh and blood horses
pounding hooves throwing up ancient dirt of
the Campus Martinus
the winner’s horse sacrificed to
Mars and
slain with the war god’s spear
its head and tail set beside crimson stained cakes
and revered as a symbol of
fertility and the harvest
its blood offered to the six Vestal Virgins
to be used in unknowable ways

Farther back to
Oiche Shamhna, the Feast of Samhain
when the dead walked the earth and
faeries danced in the dark
kept at bay by samhnagan fires
Celts and Picts and Irish pagans
consumed the silver apple and the
hazelnuts of Avalon
leaving gifts of food to appease the
dread Fomorians
as guisers went from hut to hut to gather
and the Black Sow of Wales wandered the land
slaying those too slow to flee its heavy bulk

while on the continent
men dressed in skins
stolen from animals
smeared themselves with wine
and paraded through the streets
caging criminals within the torsos of giant stuffy-men
erected in the empty fields and set
to the torch
the victim’s cries a tribute to now forgotten gods—

The wicker horse whickers noiselessly
shakes away ancestral memory
and watches falling leaves

Todd H. C. Fischer's picture

Todd Fischer has been an artist and a writer his entire life and has had several stories and pictures appear in small press journals world wide. He has also published newsletters and chapbooks under the 'imelod Publications' label during the 90's, as well as for several clubs and organizations. He is one of the founders of 'Stonebunny Press' which publishes a variety of material, and is a freelance artist through his Arm Cross Studios., He has worked as a Production Scheduler in a recording studio (recording books for the blind), as well a variety of odd jobs such as window cleaner, grass cutter in a cemetery and as a face painter., In his free time Todd is a medieval re-enactor and a proud member of the Lions. He is a voracious reader, a cartoonist and sometimes playtests various games (including the RPG ‘Spaceship Zero’ and the Rifts CCG). Map making, book collecting, story writing/telling, Halo and poetry are also activities that Todd enjoys.

Last updated August 10, 2011