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thirsty leather

published: 2011-03-26

The stale smell of leather. It hit me while standing outside the home I used to live in. Twenty five years had passed and almost nothing had remained unchanged, neither inside nor out. Except for that one wall, the low brick wall that separated the terrace from the garden.

I stared at the wall and all I could think of were the saddles. The bridles. The stirrups. How dry they would become, and so I’d hang them over that wall to rub oil into them. There were stains on the straps to the bridles, sweat stains.
The white, frothy, saliva that formed around his mouth. How the mouthpiece would clink and clang against his big teeth as he played with it in irritation. How he could sometimes lose control and I’d grab on to his manes, so hard that I’d end up with plucks of his thick hair stuck around my fingers, cutting of blood circulation. The grunt and huff and snorts and muted click of hooves on red dirt-roads. The roar of airplane engines as they would take off right next to us. But we were faster. Out of control, but faster. Did my heart thump? I don’t know. There wasn’t any time to think.
Hot, African sun beating down on thirsty leather. My hands would hurt as I tried to soften the hardened saddle. If only I knew.

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