This poem came out of the June 4, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion. It also fills the #17 Hoary slot in the Rainbowfic Moonlight list. It has been sponsored by Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the Torn World project.
Fala has long since mastered the trick
of sleeping on the trail, in the saddle,
lulled into an easy doze
by the rocking gait of the snow-unicorn,
her hands locked into Birchtail's hoary fur.
This is why she volunteers for nightwatch,
because when the whole village travels
to and from the summer gathers,
somebody needs to stay awake
to watch for Others or predators
or whatever hazards may emerge
from the harsh wilderness that is their home.
Some of the other rangers haven't got the knack of it,
especially the hunters and trappers --
the herders can do just about anything on snowy-back.
Some of the older ones had the knack and lost it
to stiffening muscles and cranky bones;
they leave such work to the young rangers now.
So Fala volunteers for nightwatch,
when she isn't busy riding trailguard positions by day,
and she lets her body sway through sunlit dreams
imagining what the world might have been like before
it was broken like a slab of ice dropped on a stone,
when the North was warmer and richer
and full of people everywhere.
It's summer, after all,
the season of daydreams.