Pale Horse


“The Race Track” by Albert Pinkham Ryder (1900)

I realise there’s not been much activity here for a while.  Fear not, I’m not dead (on the outside at least).  Please enjoy this short piece, written originally in November 2017.

Pale Horse

In the dead glade there is a horse I watch. A long perished creature, much like everything else in this desolate place. In memoriam, it treads the dampen earth and feeds upon blackened mosses, and in the revenant’s very existence I find enchantment. For it is undeniable; I am deeply lost in the enthralment of its ghastly beauty.

A silent cacophony of bone, the skeletal form exudes a strength and grace seldom seen in these bleak avenues.  Lit from within by an eternal green flame that engulfs its unique form, the wandering shade is an emerald nestled in the darkness of my surroundings, waiting patiently in the dusty avenues of strange and countless aeons for discovery.

Snaking and erupting from fissures between iced ribs and bottomless eye sockets, the licking flares are mesmerising. Terrifying in their unmatched vibrancy, they lash my ichor with the force of unimagined magics, snaring this lone traveller and denying reprieve.  They call this unchokable flame, the fire. Few of those who roam these lands possess it, but those that do are blessed with a superiority over others; they emit warmth.

A most radiant glow overcame me when first I encountered such a creature. As sound cannot exist in this place and radial anomalies differing from the mortuary chill of the plains are few and far between, the heat was instantly curious in its foreign nature to me. Lured, hypnotised like a rat to the viper, I followed its trail through the shadows and dark passages for many a mile, drawing ever nearer to this unseen star of the night. Intrepidly, and in fevered state, I walked till my bones began to crumble and joints began to fuse, but despite my agony the desire to witness was great, and ultimately my persistence was rewarded with the vision of that equestrian revenant.  I alone saw it, aglow in its green glory in a clearing of obsidian cedar.

How came such a beautiful thing to wander here alone, on this grim night, when I myself was so companionless for so long? We dwellers are cursed to ramble unseen by others, unheeded by all. We are stricken from the consciousness of others. Invisible and damned, we are the simple ghosts of the plains. Yet there I stood in that dead glade, transfixed and bewitched by the illumination before me. Warm, radiant, luminescent in its flickering forks of mesmerisation. Pale horse, whose beauty thaws my iced core, whose glory fires the blackest recesses of my prison and teaches me colours anew. Pale horse, why did you choose this wretched denizen over any other?

Some questions shall forever be without answer, and the vast and sprawling nightmares of this land are forever more wanting than all others. The vision gifted to me would never attain an explanation, and in truth I never expected one. Even so, the mystery of why has haunted me ever since that first glimpse through decayed boughs. I thought the moment to be fleeting, assumed the image too strong and that it would be long gone from my waking world. But still, from that trickle of sand to this, it remains with me, steadily burning its effigy into my consciousness. And to my pitiful joy, the haunting will not cease.

It has become, without doubt or shame, my curse. One born of wonderment and beauty, perhaps sent for reasons of damnation, punishment for a past I have long forgotten and can never recall to mind. Its reason, I know not. I am simply tethered, hypnotised forevermore in this dead glade. Companioned with my memories of the fire, and of the pale horse.

12 thoughts on “Pale Horse

  1. ‘How came such a beautiful thing to wander here alone, on this grim night?’ I asked the same thing when I read this, mate.
    My N and the L are not working on WP today. Weirdness abounds. I had to type this in Word & paste because I’m not one to be told I can’t use the N or the L…

    Liked by 1 person

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