The Silver Horse

By Rose Strode

September 26, 2022

The Silver Horse

I found a silver coin in my mother’s fancy things drawer when I was six: a large coin, inscribed with inscrutable writing, nestled among thigh-high nylons and diaphanous shortie nighties. On one side was the harp of royal Ireland; on the other, a horse.

The horse wore no saddle, but stood braced, head high, ears pricked as if listening to someone outside the silver circle of its world. A hole was drilled through the top. Ma left rural Ireland in 1960 when she was nineteen, married in Boston at twenty-five. Her parents couldn’t afford to attend her wedding, but sent this coin, which Ma wore under her dress.

As Ma folded laundry I told myself a story. This was the white horse, shining like sunlight on ice, that the hero Oisín rode out of Ireland to the land under the sea, where he married a princess. When Oisín returned, he learned that each year beneath the sea, one hundred Irish years had passed. His father and comrades were dead, the castle in ruins. Oisín stood in the stirrups, searching the land for signs of his old life. The girth burst like a harp string: Oisín struck the ground, aging three hundred years in an instant.

The story doesn’t say what happened to the princess, or the horse.

Ma, noticing I was still playing, said, “Put that away now before you lose it.”

I obeyed. But first, I held the coin up to my eye and looked at her through the hole.


Rose Strode is a poet and essayist. She received her MFA in creative writing at George Mason University. When not writing or helping others with their writing, Rose rehabilitates overgrown gardens. Her favorite tools are her eraser and her pruning shears.


Image by Yaroslav courtesy of  Adobe Stock

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