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3:33 Sports Short #50 // Escape To Nonpareil by Susan Kay Anderson

“An Arabian will take care of its owner as no other horse will, for it has not only been raised to physical perfection, but has been instilled with a spirit of loyalty unparalleled by that of any other breed.”  American Arabian Association

Corine and I watched as Dad seemed to be dragged to death along our road, Nonpareil.  We stood on the damp pavement, Dad twisting while Nikkia reared, hoofing the sky above the camas. The heels of his black rubber boots dug into the soft, sloppy gravel, leaving tracks that waved back and forth like he was water skiing.  It almost looked fun.  There was a pain in my chest.  It was love.  Love for Nikkia.   Dad was not letting go of the rope.

Nikkia came with papers from the Arabian Horse Association of America.  On them, Zildjian Zil.  He was coming home, to us.  A home he would understand.  We had lots of trinkets from the Middle East because of Uncle Eddy, Dad’s friend from Jordan.  We lived in a house full of items stamped with “Made in Syria” in blue ink.  Inlaid boxes for holding cigarettes held our Barbie shoes, brass candlesticks in the shape of cobras, topless women, and camels stood on our bedside tables, robes with gold thread running through them were in my parents’ closet.  A huge, shiny platter, its edges crimped like a pie crust, rested precariously on top of its cedar stand, could fold away at a moment’s notice.  It served as our coffee table.  Bright red, deep blue, yellow, and cream-colored embroidered tablecloths.  Each Christmas, we brought out the carved wooden animals that were held together by a tiny golden chain, each one connected by their chins, to stand witness to Mom’s manger from Bavaria.

Corine named him Nikkia, a name easier to pronounce.  She often told us about the incredible energy, intelligence, and gentle disposition of the American Arabian as she sat at the kitchen table, her back to the pasture beyond where we could see Nikkia prancing around, dancing, it seemed, to some unheard music.  Furthermore, in a snobby tone, one that she later reserved for people who didn’t know Eugene bands like The Hoodlums, Carrion Commandos, Johnson Unit, or Snake Pit, she reported that Arabians had earned their reputation through thousands of years of selective breeding along the Tigress and Euphrates, were a gift from Allah, necessary for the Bedouin people, and an instrument of war.

We were scared to death of him.  His reddish brown mane, his beautiful, slightly arched neck, all the running and prancing he did around the base of those pear trees, biting us or kicking if we’d come near.  How we’d climb up in the tree and be there for hours, eating pears and watching his beautiful body against the brown gold of the field, the heat making a thick noise, the sun getting ready to go down, the planets all aligning for him, for him, the little terrorist in our midst.

Susan Kay Anderson, 2010 National Poetry Series Finalist, was the poetry editor of Big Talk in Eugene, Oregon, a free publication in the early 1980s which showcased up-and-coming NW punk bands, published by Hank Trotter. She earned degrees in anthropology from the University of Oregon (BS) and English Literature/Creative Writing from the University of Colorado, Boulder (MA & Jovanovich Award). Her thesis was directed by poet Edward Dorn. She worked in Hawaii as an educator and interviewed Virginia Brautigan Aste. This project and its resulting memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast, is currently under consideration by a publisher.