At dawn’s pink tinge we heard the bell,
unzipped from sleeping bags to pull

ourselves from bunks, iced feet to planks,
donning sweatshirts. The cabin door banged

as we ran to climb the corral fence,
perched and watched the saddles cinched.

We mounted and filed,
our horses nose to rump, spilled

down the bank. The air pinked
our cheeks as, for an hour, we gripped

with wobbly knees, then slowed and wove
through oaks, dismounting to throw

the reins over pommel, tied a slip
knot to a tree and hobbled up the slope

to a tiny house. Aunt Faith awaited,
her silver curls like snail shells, tight

to her head. She beckoned us in to blue
china on an oak table. We knew

what to do, marched to the sink
to scrub, then sat to wink

at Bo, who eyed the waffle stacks.
We sang grace, Aunt Faith taking

the lead with her birdy warble.
Into melted butter, we spiraled

syrup; well-water quelling
our maple tongues, piling

the dishes, we took our leave,
weaving back. Not five

minutes in, Bo, on Sir William, passed a hollow
trunk, jumped down and lifted a yellow
boulder above his head, smashing
it down as we watched, gasping

to see the coil of snake, felt the shimmy
of horses beneath us, their high whinny

foretelling that the morning ride,
sharp as the clang of its bell, would not fade.

Music professor Joanna White has works in: Examined Life Journal, Healing Muse, MacGuffin, Measure, Sow’s Ear, Earth’s Daughters, Dunes Review, KYSO Flash Anthologies, Cherry Tree, and The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), among others. Her first collection, Drumskin and Bones, will be published (Salmon Press, Ireland) March 2021.