WITH THE EYES OF THE SUN

For Erika Ricci and Anna Lisa Rosetti

 

i

 

”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”.

 

ii

 

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.

 

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THE CIRCUS HORSE

… inflated, a fiver, Made in Spain, bought

with candy floss and a fluorescent snake;

harness, saddle, accoutrements in red

and gold with tassels; caparisoned as if

for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna

or the corrida; forever prancing

with a winsome, vulnerable chestnut eye

but, though deflating, still too big for the long

drive south so left with us for safe keeping…

 

It rides unseen in the gazebo – secure

from downpours or gusts or jackdaws –

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MYTH MAKING

Whichever way the visitors choose to come –

up the steep, narrow road with blind corners

and left onto the Harlech Castle car park

or walking down from the high street – most

make for the statue, especially those

with young children attracted by the horse.

 

It is a war horse, so the tail is docked.

Its neck and head are lowered, its legs splayed,

its nostrils flaring, its eyes wide. It carries

two kings: Bendigeidfrân – Brân the Blessed

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ALMS

On a strip of unfenced scrubland – adorned

with scattered wild roses white and pink –

between the main road and our apartment,

a Roma family had pitched a low tent

of sun-bleached canvas, beneath two stunted

umbrella pines, set up a cooking pot

and tied their horse to a tree with a long tether

so it could graze on whatever was there.

There were three of them: a middle aged couple,

and an old woman – the women in black,

the man as tall,

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KISMET

i.m Alan and Claudia Dench

 

After much diligent work in the stable –

helping brush out, adding water to the oats –

our grand daughter rode Harold round the paddock.

My cousin watched from the terrace, anxious,

encouraging, while her husband led the gray

as she sat astride, in all the right gear,

with all the natural seriousness

and dignity her five long years had taught her.

 

It was spring there in the narrow valley

an hour or so drive from the Pyrenees.

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