#38 – Brendan Connolly

i won the pony express award at a dude ranch in wyoming when i was eight

at the announcement ceremony my courage and determination were mentioned, lauded as a vision of hanging from the neck and straddling the side of a horse at full sprint

my acceptance speech was mostly aimed at my horse big red

we spent a week as partners on the trail, where we would break rank and try to chase down big red/s shadow in open fields of wild flowers as grasshoppers leaped from the stalked grass in front of us like we had fallen into their wake

citing the moment, i/d shift down his ribs, my arms secure around his neck, his mane flowing straight with the speed, its lees keeping the air current to a minimum, only adding to what we were to accomplish

we actually set a record that still hangs in the mess hall, being the largest proportional difference between rider and horse to be nominated, let alone win the award

what was called daring and innovative was really just me hanging on for dear life, because even at that age, i knew i did not plan on falling and letting the world sort my landing out for me

after our last ride through the wandered west, i brushed open sunshine from big red/s chestnut hair to keep his shadow away for the night and hung the saddle on the wall, shutting off the light to the stables as i left and heard excited tamps in the dark as i walked to my cabin

Brendan ConnollyBrendan Connolly’s work has been featured by Genre: Urban Arts, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, Breathe Free Press and elsewhere. He lives and writes in Salem, Ma.