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.