No matter the heat, the place was cooler.
Its shade wasn’t ordinary. Its strategy was of sharply
dragging the day under, of growing into the bodies
we’d angled under the tree, filling us as if we’d barely
made it up from the dirt. You’d hold on to the tree, for it
were a horse’s neck. I was always the first one to get up
and leave, being no good at making nothing of a free
day then. You were good because you’d never thought
about how to be good. A splintery broom, a pair of feelers,
a miniature skull of fungus would do it. The shadow made
your riding town no less busy. Except for a day
when I came and the place was in sunlight
like a body of water. Water folding sheets of water.
The tree was only the ghost of your horse and it had
forgotten all rain. It set its hooves in the dust.
It became necessary to visit again and again. For your
not being there to continue, and to become shadow.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.