For Erika Ricci and Anna Lisa Rosetti
”I am not dumb now,” was Helen Keller’s proud,
challenging statement of fact. Those who can
see, she said, should be “knights of the blind”.
From the horsemen of the Apocalypse
to the breaking, millennia ago,
of wild horses on the western steppes
beyond Volga-Matushka – Mother Volga –
these beasts are both utility and symbol.
In the Aber Valley, where the Afon Goch –
the Red River – falls precipitously
and the princes of Gwynedd rode and hunted,
there have been feral ponies for centuries,
grazing by the river, under the alders,
unmolested. Last year’s snows culled many.
In Ireland, where the horse was revered in myth,
the companion of kings and goddesses,
there are thousands abandoned. In Dublin,
on a cut-off estate – workless, drug-peddled –
a man ran over a horse with a quad bike
repeatedly, and others beat it with planks.
We visited the Palazzo dei Duchi –
near to the site of the town’s small ghetto –
by the Catania Gate, Taormina,
Sicily, once a medieval palace built by
Spanish nobles, knights of the inquisition,
now the municipal art gallery.
And, by chance, we encountered a tale
of beasts made beautiful, the lost found.
Twenty nine paintings hung in the gallery:
an exhibition – that toured Milan,
Rimini, Terra del Sole and Forli –
to celebrate human diversity
and the curative power of horses.
It was inspired by a horse called King,
an Arabian gelding blinded
by corrosive chemicals –
il cavallo daglie occhi di sole,
the horse with the eyes of the sun.
His affliction, his strength, his compliance
rescued a young woman, an addict,
from her darkened, silenced wilderness.
Note: The Horse With The Eyes Of The Sun http://www.kingilcavallodagliocchidisole.it/king.html