One Hundred Horsepower

by Will Burns

In the village, we never knew or used

his real name. We were children


and we called him Hundred Horsepower.

I had given the name to the others


and heard it from my mother, who,

describing him as a much younger man


told me of his ability to hurl

the Waltzers round at incredible speed.


Then, years later, every time the Fair

came through and set up on the manor waste,


he walked along each morning, early,

and did his day’s work into the evening.


He still knew all the men,

and his boys – who did not attend our school –


knew all the boys. Boys who while

the Fair was there, could have their pick


tanned and topless and with dirty fingernails.

But when the rides and engines had packed up,


leaving behind only bleached shapes

in the grass, and moved on,


he and his boys shrank back into the margins

of the town, and the little row of houses


in which they lived. Pursued always

by ugly whispers.


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