Changeling by Kate Garrett


a strange, ugly child
left in exchange for
a beautiful, wanted child.

My mother sings, mucking out the barn.
The melody reaches me, but
She can’t see her daughter.

I stare into the mare’s deep brown eyes;
Nine year old thoughts forming:
“I like you, but I do not love you.”

She blows warm air across my cheek.
Her coarse mane frames
Solid shoulders. Strong, even teeth

Cracked-mirror a crooked smile, while
The scents of saddle polish and grain
Swaddle the sunlit May morning.

She turns her head to nuzzle her foal.
My mother stops to gaze at them.
I stand alone, absently plaiting grass with hay.

“I love you, but I do not like you.”
I turn away in the space between,
And laugh at the empty pasture.

Previously published in Now Then.

Kate GarrettKate Garrett was born in southern Ohio thirtysomething years ago, but thanks to a bout of irrational romanticism in early adulthood, has lived in the UK since 1999. Her poetry pops up in various online and print publications, including The Buddhist Poetry Review, Melancholy HyperboleCactus Heart and most recently The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood. She lives in Sheffield, England with her sons, a collection of hula hoops, and a cat called Mimi (named in honour of a feline in a Haruki Murakami novel), and has a website here: