Study of a Wild Horse on a Shelf

There was an active shooter on a bridge,
years ago, while we were tourists
and hoping to see The Lion King on
Broadway—had to see Beauty and
the Beast instead—a long day
trudging the pavement trying to shove
memories into disposable cameras
while fighting off the cold and
eating Rice Krispie treats Tyler’s
grandma brought on the bus all the
way from Mississippi. A stop
in Chinatown netted me a wild horse:
purple plastic, glowing radioactive in
the dark twenty years later, a survivor of
that trip and more. I held it then, and
felt an immense longing to escape.
I pack it last each time I move and find
it a new place of prominence, like now,
its head down and hind legs defying the
sky, gravity paused. I never knew about
the active shooter until years later.
The kids were kept in the dark, shuffled
from safe zone to safe zone while
maintaining a cordon of education,
“Look at that historical monument;
pose for a picture with the statue of a
German shepherd; let’s get back on the bus!”
We all cried at the fence memorial
surrounding Ground Zero. Plastic flowers,
cards, photographs, dried tears. I remember
the chain links were cold and so were my
hands and nose. I needed a tissue;
I remembered the day the towers fell
and how we all knelt by our desks,
hard linoleum beneath tiny knees,
and prayed for them—

we prayed for towers as they fell.

Photo by Ged Lawson on Unsplash

Bailey Hammond

Bailey Hammond is a single mother who recently earned an MFA from Mississippi University for Women, where she teaches American literature online. Her poetry and nonfiction touch on the intersection between memory and nature (and the nature of memories), focusing on excavating lost things and examining seemingly minute details.