One evening that summer a riderless horse galloped along our road, empty stirrups slapping. We ran up the driveway screaming to our mother. Quick, inside! she said. She shut and locked the door, closed the windows. The horse tried the door handle, its large eye pressed to the keyhole. It prowled around the house. The fume of its breath misted the windows. It couldn’t get in! We laughed with relief. My brother remembers it differently, when I call him up, but we agree on the rattle of the door handle. Stupid Mum! I say to the dog. He chews on a dried pig’s ear—I bought him a packet of them at the supermarket. Boy loves to chew. I pull another ear from the packet and whisper into it, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but it’s heard it all before. It’s getting late. I hear the beat of hooves, and from every direction the riderless horses come.


All these people had come to an outdoor fair. They were walking from one stall to another, inspecting the goods for sale,

picking up a jar of quince jelly and holding it to the light, tipping it sideways to test the set,

putting it down again. Everyone was eating instant noodles from disposable cups. In one hand

they held the cup, and in the other they held the sachet of flavouring and a plastic fork. They were trying

to sprinkle the flavouring on their noodles, but what with walking around and the fork and a light breeze blowing,

most of the dry powder drifted away or fell to the ground. One man tore his sachet and shook it furiously,

spilling its contents everywhere. I’d had enough. ‘Stop!’ I shouted to the crowd, and a few looked my way.

‘You’re losing the flavouring! Make a funnel’—I waved the paper serviette that came with the noodles—’with this!’ I quickly made a funnel,

poured the flavouring on to the noodles. None was wasted! More people gathered around.

Some fumbled with their flavour sachets, made funnels with their serviettes, but they made them wrong,

and the flavouring missed their cups. I was losing them. They dispersed, diverted by the many other attractions,

leaving a fine yellow cloud of noodle flavouring in the now still air, like pollen, like grace so available nobody wanted it.

F&S Web

Tim Upperton

Tim Upperton’s second poetry collection,‘The Night We Ate The Baby’, was an Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist in 2016. His poems feature in numerous anthologies, including ‘The Best of Best New Zealand Poems’ (2011) and ‘Essential New Zealand Poems’ (2014). His third poetry collection will be published by Auckland University Press in 2022. He lives in possibly the oldest house in Palmerston North with his dog, cat, and two chickens.