A girl cousin plays bride
in the hallway, lace
table runner draped
over her head, 
imaginary flowers drooping  
in clasped hands.
I bump down the stairs
on my bottom, then
run back up again.
My white rocking horse 
sits on the landing, its
red saddle jaunty, its
galloping feet paced
by springs; I place my
hand on its neck, lean
in to gaze into its black
eye, see a dream of green
fields, endless trails.
When the girl cousin says
let’s play Juliet and falls down
pretend-dead, I panic. We 
are alone and I am five and
her stillness stretches to
forever. I know the ghosts
of this house will stir now; I
know this house is too big 
for my small bones.
The black eye of the rocking
horse says there are things
here you don’t 


Peggy Hammond’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Roanoke Review, The Spotlong Review, Straylight Literary Magazine, ZiN Daily, Ghost City Review, Salvation South, The Shore, Street Cake Magazine, NELLE, The Avalon Literary Review, Dust Poetry Magazine, Blue Lake Review, and elsewhere. She is a Best of the Net nominee, an Eric Hoffer Poetry Award nominee, and the author of The Fifth House Tilts (Kelsay Books, 2022).