The Carousel Horse
It's been so long now; it's really hard to remember or maybe it's because of the way I feel or have always felt. when was I born? I could say when they carved me I guess or when they finished painting me, or when I was mounted on the carousel. But if I'm really honest about my feeling I'd have to go back even further, to when I was a part of a beautiful tree in the Black Forest. Oh so long ago. I have fond memories of my growing years. I learned to deal with the elements that are. I learned patience and I learned that you can be taken away from everything that you love and know, and be put into, oh such totally different circumstances and still live. Why even thrive. Yes, it's been a good life. I wouldn't say easy, but well on to my tale.
I'm proud of the way I look and I must say my life before I was injured was full of compliments. Even when I was being carved, the expert woodsman remarked on my quality. "Now this is what I call a perfect piece of oak." Yes, I remember it so well. The man who carved me was quite old. His hands were rough but I didn't mind because he touched me so lovingly. He was constantly caressing me as he sought out the perfect horse that was captured inside.
He worked slowly, puffing on his old pipe. The smell was delicious. I can still smell it, even now. It kinda permeated my whole being as he carved and puffed for all those months. "Say, now that's a pretty one, Joseph." the man stood, hands on his hips, and scrutinized me closely. "I like the lift of the head and the way you've raised her front foot in the air. She's a real beauty." Joseph puffed on his pipe and looked at me as he ran his gnarled hands over my now almost completed surface. "Yes, this one's special", he mused. I was so proud.
Joseph's wife was to paint me. I liked her. She would come into the studio always wit a a smile and a jolly laugh. "Oh, now that's real nice, Joseph. I love her big thick mane and her wonderful tail. I like the way it lifts and curls. Why Joseph, she's just beautiful." She always smelled like fresh baked bread and she always made Joseph happy. When she'd leave him he'd hum away and I could feel a kind of new energy through his hands.
When it came time for me to be painted I couldn't help being excited and could hardly wait to find out what color I would be. White, black, chestnut, it was all I thought about for days. They chose golden palomino with a glorious antique white mane and tail. My saddle was burgundy with gold trim, and the draperies that graced my sides were rose and cream with dark green trim. I looked wonderful.
I was installed on the carousel in early spring. It was all new and boasted rabbits and pigs and birds along with its many horses. I think it's only fair to say though, that, well I could hold my own. The children flocked to me. Even grown ups. I remember once a man lifted this pretty girl up on my saddle and as the music played and I moved rhythmically up and down as we turned, he proposed. she said yes. But ah, it was the children, the wide-eyed, happy boys and girls who wrapped their arms around me like they would never let go. I carried them gently up and down as we moved along the crescendo of sound and lights.
As the years moved by I began to feel my age. My paint was cracking here and there and finally I got pretty crackled all over. I had dried out some and there were even hairline cracks in my wood. Who'd of ever thought it. The carousel was getting older too and it creaked a bit and groaned at times but we all kept going rain or shine and the kids kept coming. I wasn't getting the compliments I got when I was young but I knew they enjoyed me and that was the most important thing. Then one day the engine quit. The children were very disappointed. I remember the little boy on me kept kicking me and beating me with his fists. I was more hurt than hurt, if you know what I mean. This engine trouble became pretty regular, then the trouble with the gears or something. Then it was just trouble, trouble and pretty soon the kids didn't come anymore. I felt terrible but that was just the beginning. they took us apart and discarded us like old worthless junk.
I was thrown , yes thrown, they broke my neck, into an old dark warehouse. I laid there for years in the dark and the roof leaked. The rain would drip down from the high, dark ceiling and run in cold rivulets over my exposed side. It was awful. My paint, well, let's not even talk about it. I was a mess. Then one day they opened the warehouse doors and started looking through the piles left from so long ago. They laid all the carousel horses in one place and they looked us over. They inspected me. "Might as well burn this one. I think it's hopeless. Look, it's neck is even broken." a young man looked down at me. He touched my neck. Oh, it felt good. It had been so long. He ran his fingers over the cracked neck. His companion shook his head. "forget it. Come on let's check out the rest." He left.
They spent about a week selecting the chosen ones and they put me in a heap, and not too gently, with the other rejects. I heard what they were planning for us. They said old oak made a great fire. I just couldn't believe what was happening to me.
Then they drove the truck into the warehouse. It was one of those cold, wet mornings. The sky was dark and I felt a chill run through me. They started throwing, yes throwing, us into the back of the truck...then the young man walked in. He walked over to me just as they were grabbing me by the tail. "Wait, I think I'll take this one home." "fine with me but I sure don't know why. It's a wreck." "I know, I know, but there's something about her." He reached down and picked me up and I fell in love. He carried me to his van and gently laid me down inside. I could have wept. He drove me to his home and took me inside. His wife opened the door. "Oh my, it looks like she's been through a lot." She touched me and I knew I was finally safe.
He worked on my neck. He sanded me and polished me and rubbed oil on me night after night. I was beginning to feel pretty good, and oh his pipe, I loved his pipe. It reminded me of, oh so long ago. Then it came time to paint me. I had heard them discussing it. They were going to paint me exactly like before when I was young. I was thrilled and what a job she did. She couldn't have been more careful. I knew she liked me.
They placed me by the window in a large kitchen and I look out over rolling hills of oak. The sunsets splash the last light of day on me every evening and I am content. She polishes me a lot and I'm constantly complimented. But Joe's my favorite. I mean, he saved my life but, I don't know, I just love him anyway. There's something about him.
His wife walked into the room. Joe was reading at the table smoking his pipe. She walked up behind him and ran her hand through his hair. The sun was setting and cast a golden light on the carousel horse. "I just love that horse" she said. He nodded, "Yes, I know. I've always wanted one. My grandfather used to carve them. Did I ever tell you that?"
painting of horse by Nancy Glazier