Derby Day

The smell of horses, their sweat, their dung, the grass – hard going I hear someone say. The smell of perfume, powder, cigars, unwashed strappers, fear – or is it excitement. Top hats, tails, parasols, bonnets, lace, so many – hard to find a place at the rail. Beyond, the track. Hallowed turf, sweet, plush, dew-fresh. A roar, eyes right, they’re off, in the distance like toys. Multi-coloured silks, child-like jockeys, getting bigger, the thundering of hooves like a cavalry charge, clods flying, tails flying, manes tossing, whips slashing. Screaming, shouting, waving, excited faces, scenting victory, scenting ruin. Scenting fear, mine. Close now, time up, wonder what’s for tea. Hitch up skirt, jump the rail. Feet like lead, running, running, horses eyes blazing, nostrils flaring, hooves beating, swerving, crashing, tumbling, soft grass, broken bones, crushing weight. Waited long enough, fetch the vet, too late for this suffragette.

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