A Preview of Coming Attractions

I’d hold the strap attached to his ears and mouth, lifting myself onto the leather saddle. One glass eye shone out of the right side of his head; his mouth, once bright red and smiling, had chipped away to unpainted putty. His nose, too, was bruised, with gashes for nostrils. He had a brown mane, which, extending from the crown of his head nearly to his waist, was made up of my grandmother’s discarded wigs glued to the wood. Wrapping the reins around my fist, I’d slip my feet into the stirrups that hung from his waist. I’d bounce up and down to set the runner skidding across the floor. Then I’d sit up, lean forward, press my lips to the back of his neck and exhort him. Infantile, naive, I thought I could talk to wooden animals. I’d wrap my arms around his neck and kick my legs back and forth in the stirrups. I’d lay my cheek against the side of his head, press myself to his curves. When he pitched forward, I’d scoot up toward the base of his spine, and when he swung back, I’d let go of his leather strap and lean back as far as I could, so that I was causing his motions at the same time that I was trying to get in rhythm with them. I’d clutch him, make him lurch crazily toward the far wall, jerking my body forward, squeezing my knees into wood. Then I’d twist my hips and bounce until it felt warm up under me, bump up against the smooth surface of the seat until my whole body tingled. I’d buck back and forth until it hurt, in a way, and I could ride no longer. Who would have guessed? My very first memory is of myself, in my own room, surrounded by sunlight, trying to get off.

About the Author

David Shields

David Shields is the author of 10 books, including Reality Hunger: A Manifesto; The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, a New York Times bestseller; and Black Planet, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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