Home > “Horse Camp” by JonArno Lawson (Non-Fiction Contest Winner)


A half hour before dusk one burning hot evening we were made to get back onto our ponies for a game of tag.

We were supposed to play in and around the edge of the woods-I had little hope of participating in any meaningful way-and so it suddenly struck me that the best thing to do was hide. It isn’t easy to hide on a pony, but I saw a promising clump of trees and shrubs off the edge of a path. Farzad was close behind me; without either of us saying a word to each other he saw what I was up to and he joined me. We didn’t make eye contact. It was hot-there were bugs in the shade-but bug-bites were preferable to being chased by frenzied whip-cracking Amazons in the last blinding rays of a boiling sun. Mercifully, we were forgotten and sat quietly in our arboreal hideaway as the light faded.

It was incredibly peaceful-no one knew where we were. The ponies cooperated, and a great, surprising joy rose up from my chubby tummy to my flabby chest.

Tiny fireflies started to ignite in the air around us. For the first time in my life I think I had a sense of what was probably really happening-that we were drawn to the cosmos by a song it sings in which we are both the notes and the listeners. For a moment we harmonize our lives (if we’re able) with this cosmic singing, and then fall silent to our graves, like fireflies at the edge of a dark forest showing up and disappearing to a cricket’s rhythmic chirping.

That’s not how I’d have said it at the time-I wouldn’t even say it that way now-but that was the feeling.

Soon, angry voices shouting our names could be heard in the distance-it was time to leave the safety of the woods, and return to the indignities and the dangers of the shack.

To read the rest of “Horse Camp,” order your copy of PRISM 51:3 here.