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.