Poetry

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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