I am a piebald horse
with a long and glossy ponytail,
soft as silk, borrowed from a woman.

I know her story,
I was her horse,
fighting a battle, one we lost.
1980: the darkest years,
when monstrous rulers settled in,
when moonlight hid behind the deepest ravine.

When they forced her to cover her hair,
she let her ponytail grow longer.
She hid it under a black scarf she despised,
but its flowing waves could not be contained.

With every move she made,
people turned their heads:
these sways forbidden,
a mean of seduction,
The haram sensation.

One night when she combed her hair,
I saw her tears,
felt her fears.
She petted me, groomed my tail,
and whispered into my ears,
“Forgive me for I caused you pain.
You were a part of me.
He got you to get to me,
Lashing my back,
he wrapped you around his hand to drag me,
so violently,
but there was a soul in you,
rooted in me.”

I am the fastest piebald horse,
We escaped together, riding for nights.
We migrated from 1980 and landed in 1990.
When they made mountains of scarves,
colorful and suitable for every woman’s head:
yellow, green and red.
She had many of them,
yet no scarf covered her ponytail ends.

We rode for days and nights
until we found a new home.
We migrated from 1990 and landed in 1995,
in a place with no forced scarves.

Years went by.
She ran along the shore every day,
proud of her long ponytail.

She never wanted to take her ponytail to her grave,
so it became mine.
She set me free and told me to run,
run across the wilderness.
I run wearing her ponytail.
We migrate together to other centuries.

I am a piebald horse
with a long and glossy ponytail,
running along the shore,
naked and free,
carrying the soul of a woman.

Niloufar Lily Soltani is a poet and literary fiction writer. Her poems have been published in literary magazines such as Strange Horizons. Her novella, A Love Affair with Detroit, will be published in 2023 by Urban Farmhouse Press and her novel Zulaikha was a 2019 short-listed Guernica literary award candidate and will be published in 2023 by Inanna Publications. She lives in Vancouver, BC. Read other articles by Niloufar Lily.