The Running Horse
The Swansong of Leatherhead KT22
by Marion Clarke

As if by magic,
next door’s ginger cat appears,
muzzles its way along
the newly washed panes.

“Bye, bye, puthy tat!”
my toddler exclaims,
flattening his palms against glass.
A faint trace remains . . .
then evaporates.

A few minutes later,
I close the front door
of our family home.

My husband, all business,
checks passports and tickets.
I attempt to quell
the hot threat of tears,
to oppose the swell
of a hundred indecisions.

Outside, by a garden bonfire,
a sad-eyed neighbour smiles.
I watch the yellow smoke
spiral upwards . . .
then disappear.

SOURCE: Published in Poetry NI’s FourXFour Journal, Issue 14, Autumn 2014.

ABOUT THE POEM: This poem was inspired by a few lines from T.S. Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufock.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The Running Horse, Leatherhead, built in the fifteenth century is located in Surrey and was our local pub for years. My husband and I played on the pool team for a while and loved attending the pub quiz every week. This photo was taken in July 2013 when we last went back to visit.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Leaving of Leatherhead KT22” was inspired by a writing prompt on the poetry site Everyday Poets (sadly no longer in operation). The particular month’s theme was T.S. Eliot and contributors were asked to submit a piece of work based on a few lines from one of his poems. I drew upon “The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window pane” and “Time yet for a hundred indecisions” from Prufrock. These lines reminded me of events from the day in September 2000 my husband and I closed the door of our first family home for the last time in order to return to Ireland to raise our young family. The poem accepted for publication on Everyday Poets back in 2013, but the site is no longer operating. I was delighted when it was resurrected in FourXFour, a poetry journal that showcases (by invitation) four poems by four poets from Northern Ireland.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A linguistics and business graduate of the universities of Ulster and the West of England, Marion Clarke returned to her native Northern Ireland after living in Bristol and Surrey for over a decade, where she wrote technical and market-related articles for the UK trade press. On returning to her childhood town of Warrenpoint, she also revisited her love of creative writing. Her short form poetry has been published in a variety of international journals dedicated to haiku, senryu, and haibun, and is featured in the first national haiku anthology from Ireland, Bamboo Dreams. Winner of the Financial Times Poet in the City” Haiku/Senryu Competition in 2015, Marion’s longer work has been long listed for the Desmond O’Grady Prize, 2013, and the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, 2015. Learn more at and

AUTHOR PHOTO: The author with poet Frank Ormsby at the Seamus Heaney awards in Belfast earlier this year.