The horses roll their eyes, the whites like the froth of the sea below. Some hold their mouths open, baring teeth. I wonder if the children are frightened by the carousel horses – their stiff lacquered manes and ears. Nothing soft about them. The wooden floorboards creak as the next round of people walk the circular platform picking stationary or bobbing horses. For the placid mothers, there are upholstered carriages that do not move.
One white horse has a row of teeth like checkers, maenad hair, and two front hooves raised in martial posture. Fiercely flowered, with colored bit and bridle. The greens and reds and blues are as bright as maypole colors and as steady. How many licks of paint have the carousel horses had in their hundred years?
The attendant rings the bell, and they are flying. They circle and circle on their metal poles. Children look at the carnival lights and mirrors on the center column. They look at the painted panels with rose-cheeked girls, country apple scenes. The riders move with grace, feet swinging or placed on the metal stirrups.
Below the beach keeps beating time to the organ music. Clouds grow dark and low, but the tide rises and falls as it has to with a percussion that the walkers on the boardwalk can hear. They walk parallel to the ragged hem of the sea, but they keep their feet dry. They walk in fours and twos, straggle with ice cream. Despite the cool and the heavy sky, they walk.