© Kym Eitel

Winner 2008 ABPA South Australian State Championship, Riverlands, SA

Our lives are made up of several parts — family, work, health, etc —
and sometimes when something is taken off us, it is easy to focus
on what we have lost, instead of appreciating what we still have …

As morning spread her rays of gold, the branches shivered dew.
The clouds of cotton drifted in a sky of peacock blue.
I saw a flash of rabbit ear where timid creatures dwell —
from leafy ferns to hollow log … I heard a tinkling bell.

Like phantoms through the swirling mist, vague shapes began to form.
Two horses walked the river’s edge where sunlit banks were warm.
They found a grassy clearing by the sloping, sandy bank.
I thought I heard a bell again. The horses stopped and drank.

Reflections rose to kiss them as their lips and water met.
They splashed and liquid diamonds left the horses sparkling wet.
The ripples glittered silver as the sunlight danced around.
The horses played and shook their heads. Again, I heard the sound.

The smaller filly softly neighed, then turned and walked away.
The mare behind her flicked an ear — a chestnut, flecked with grey.
They climbed the bank to nibble grass, then sauntered nose to tail.
The bell grew slightly louder as they strolled along the trail.

What caused the pretty tinkling noise? I looked around in vain.
Beside the weeping willow tree, the bell rang once again.
Then suddenly, I realised — the filly made the sound!
A bell was plaited through her mane — it rang as she moved ’round.

I climbed the fence and crept up close to figure out just why …
and when I saw the reason, I just couldn’t help but cry.
I understood it finally, why two had moved as one
to sip a drink, or nibble grass or snooze in morning sun.

The little filly always led, the old mare walked behind,
their shadows always blended, for the chestnut mare was blind.
I sat upon the rabbit’s log and closed my teary eyes,
let blinding blackness cloak me as I pondered this surprise.

I thought about her lack of sight, her world was bleak and doomed,
and then I felt her breath on me — and new awareness bloomed.
I felt her whiskers tickle as they brushed my cheek and chin.
I shivered as a flood of goose bumps spread across my skin.

I marvelled as I listened to the music of the bush,
the busy whir of finches and the treetops’ steady whoosh.
The mare still felt the warmth of sun, the chill of morning breeze,
the joy of scratching itches on the bark of shady trees.

She tasted thistle’s milky juice, and heard each dragonfly.
She loved to hear her owner’s call when bringing apples by.
She smelled the Pepperina’s bloom, and mossy banks of clay,
and savoured cool, sweet water from the river every day.

She rubbed against the filly and the old mare seemed content,
found comfort and security when breathing in her scent.
But most of all, she heard that bell and knew a friend was near.
Her life was full of beauty, so I wiped away my tear.

I realised there’s more to life, than just what meets the eye,
a lesson I’ll hold dear at heart until the day I die.
I saw the trust and bond they shared, true friendship they had found.
The filly shared her gift of sight to help the mare move ‘round.

The old horse shared her gift with me through gentle, whiskered kiss —
she helped me see her life was happy, filled with joy and bliss.
Then, nose to tail, they strolled away and nodded me farewell.
They vanished in the mist … but I will always hear that bell.

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