Fingers of twilight shadows
Begin to reach over the hill
Crawling down through the field
Up unto the bank of blackberries
Covering fences along the alder grove.
The horses chew their last
Leaves of clover before
Coming to the barn for night,
Relaxed and full, drowsy with summer evening
Peace at hand and hoof.
A sudden change in the air brings
Their heads up and ears forward;
They line up, staring at the hilltop
Above them, riveted to the spot, alert
To a coming intruder, unfamiliar and foreign.
The roar is intermittent, like an autumn wind
Rattling the barn roof, but inconstant,
Then peaking over the crest of the hill
A rounded top of technicolor glory:
The balloon rises.
The horses silenced, baffled, fascinated;
No instinct prepares their response
To this wizard's act from Oz in their backyard.
The basket riders wave and laugh at the equine audience
Below in formation with noses in the air and manes blowing in the breeze.
As the balloon crests the hill
And begins to move beyond our reach
To search out other pastures, other valleys and hills,
The horses released from its spell
Leap in retreat, tails high, noses flared
To settle into a shavings bed in the barn
Where night, blissful, becomes ordinary again.