Two little girls with bicycles
set out towing a horse
to a tiny island between millrace
and Grand Union Canal.
The horse set free to graze,
they set up their little camp.
The nights were hard
the food was bad –
each meal a variation on sausages or Spam
with Shredded Wheat and marmalade for breakfast.
But not deterred,
intrepid girls explored
one on horseback,
one on bike, in turn.
A week went by adventuring
without a serious problem.
The occasional fall
didn’t scare them at all –
the pony was their factotum,
carrying shopping or girl
back to camp full of environment,
but home, at the end, for nourishment.
This is a true story – we were independent eleven-year-olds, weaned on the adventures in Arthur Ransoms’s Swallows and Amazons books. We had the loan of pony and island while the Mill family was away on holiday, on condition that we looked after Minor, the Welsh pony. The two horse-mad friends were delighted, their parents unalarmed in those non-violent days.
The Grand Union Canal runs from London to Birmingham in the centre of England and at that time there were still pairs of narrow boats taking goods between the two cities and beyond, with whole families travelling the waterways all their lives.
The form of this poem for Summer Camp is the Bop:
July – ADVENTURE, using the form of The Bop developed by poet Afaa Michael Weaver at a Cave Canem summer retreat:
3 stanzas, each followed by a refrain. First stanza of 6 lines presents a subject. Second stanza of 8 lines long explores or expands the subject or problem. Third stanza of 6 lines either presents a solution or documents the failed attempt to resolve the problem