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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.

The snow melt was rushing through the stream.

The banks of the lanes were tangled

with celandine, violets and cranesbill.

A doe broke cover on the high pasture

and a cuckoo called from the distant woods.

But the reins remained safe in her small hands.


There is something ancient, archetypal

about a human on a horse – power,

respect, empathy, symbiosis.

I smiled at my cousin and nodded, thought of

our ghosts – her mother, my parents, theirs;

motley, eclectic generations –

acknowledging our brief destiny, that

infant, that horsewoman.




© Copyright David Selzer

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