A bluebird sat on a fencepost,
whistling a merry tune.
A chipmunk chewed on a cloverleaf
as he scampered through the dew.
But all was lost on Beauty
as she stared across the dale,
and watched a team of horses
pull a wagon up the hill.
“What a pitiful kind of horse I am!”
she thought with a wistful sigh.
“I do no work to earn my keep,
I just watch the world go by!
Day after day I whirl and spin
‘til I think I will go mad.
And all the while real horses run
and frolic in the grass!”
Her longing gaze swept past the road
to a meadow across the way,
where a small white pony ran about
and munched on fragrant hay.
All of a size the ponies were,
both sported coats of white.
Their eyes were black, their noses pink,
their hooves well-shaped and light.
But one possessed the gift of life
as she ate the meadow hay.
The other was made from a Linwood tree
and painted with colors gay.
The pony’s name was Flicka
and she had her dreams as well;
for she often thought how it would feel
to live on a carousel.
“Just think how wonderful it would be
to spin while the music plays!
To run in the midst of twinkling lights
And wear such bright array!
If only I could make a wish,
I’d trade with the white one there;
who looks like me, only grander far
than an ordinary mare!”
Now it happened on that very day
a wood elf happened to be
exactly in the middle,
precisely in between;
As the painted pony wished a wish
that was echoed from below
by the softly breathing real live horse,
her black eyes all aglow.
The Wood Elf clapped his hands before,
he clapped them twice behind.
Three times he clapped them over his head
as the wishes flew entwined.
“So! Let it be!” the Wood Elf cried.
Let’s see how they behave
when each to the other’s world is thrown,
and now, the switch is made!
“Twill last until each spurns the life
she prized above her own.
But each must wish in a moment’s time,
as they wished here, both alone!”
Beauty found herself knee-deep
in clover, and she knew
somehow a new dimension
had opened to her view.
She saw away upon the hill the carousel and park,
with pennants flying in the breeze
and horses light and dark.
She trembled with excitement,
prepared to take a step,
but tripped and tumbled to the ground,
at walking, quite inept!
It took some time to learn to use
the body she had found,
but soon her hooves were pounding hard
upon that meadow ground.
She tasted water from a spring
flavored with leaves of mint.
She ran a race with a butterfly,
just for the fun of it.
No matter that each time she ran
she circled roundabout,
or that she had a habit of jumping up and down.
She ran so long and hard that day
her legs began to cramp;
her tail was full of cockleburs,
she’d been bitten by an ant.
She waded in a spring fed stream,
but slipped and fell in the mud.
Her shiny coat was soiled and dull
with no one to give it a rub.
At close of day she looked around
with eyes grown newly wise.
“Some parts of this new life I see,
are not so very nice!
I kind of miss the twinkling lights
and the children on my back.
And I especially miss the nice young man
who gave my daily bath!”
She remembered how he always waxed
her saddle ‘til it shone;
and poilished her eyes so they gave out sparks,
but now she stood alone.
No one came to pat her,
no chubby arms took hold.
no bobbing curls tickled her nose,
she missed the music bold.
The sun went down,
the air turned chill as Beauty took account
of how it really felt to be
away from carousel.
Meanwhile, Flicka was spinning around
upon that magic wheel,
with fancy trappings upon her back
and a similar tale to tell.
She’d found herself transported
to a frozen world of wood,
with never a chance to stretch her legs –
she’d never understood –
that all the dancing movement
came not from the mounts themselves,
but from a great machine that held
the ponies in its spell.
She could only see the meadow
for a second now and then,
and the fragrance of sweet clover
she longed to smell again
was lost in the smell of dust and oil,
in cotton candy clouds.
And, she found when she tried to whinny,
she could not make a sound!
“I threw away my freedom
for a dream I thought was grand.
But now I know how fine it was
to run across the land!
To be so close to grass and sky
that I could taste and feel
the sweetness of the morning dew
and earth beneath my heels!”
She almost wished the wish it took
to change their roles again;
but the lights blinked on and a laughing child
climbed on to take a spin.
Many days went slowly by
while the ponies longed for home.
and each one vowed she’d never ask
for a fairer field to roam.
No one came to the meadow gate
to take sad Beauty out.
She was no more useful here,
she knew, than spinning round about.
“At least up there I charmed a child
as he rode upon my back;
And I liked the sound of squeaky boards
on the undulating track!”
The Wood Elf watched the ponies
as he passed them once again;
but no one saw him save the birds
as he walked from now to then.
At last he sat on Flicka’s back
one night when all was dark;
and told a secret that made her glad
before he left the park.
Next day she watched each time around
to see what Beauty did.
And, sure enough, there came a time
when she stood with lifted head.
She gazed so sadly up the hill
toward Flicka and the rest,
that Flicka knew she was thinking about
the life she dearly missed.
“It’s time!” the pony whispered,
and she wished with all her might.
The Wood Elf smiled to see at last
the problem had been set right.
Each pony found her special place
and stood contented there.
And neither ever wished again
another’s lot to share.
Now, if you ride on Beauty,
you just might get to see
how quietly happy she’s become
and how content to be
a pony on the carousel, a ticket for a ride,
giving dreams a place to grow
for each happy little child.
c.1991 Donna Swanson
All rights reserved