(quotes are taken from Roy Campbell’s “Horses of the Camargue”)
by Elaine Edwards
En route from Carcassonne to Juan les Pines
I spot the sign: Aigues- Mort, Petit Camargue.
I chant: a hundred snowy horses unconfined
as you swing the wheel, careen onto the minor road.
Steel sky, leaden land grey wastes of dread
but no – a milky sun, some birds, a farmyard with some horses tamely chomping straw.
Not quite stallions of the wilderness but I’d still like to stop.
Intent, as always, on the destination,
you speed past.
In Aigues- Mort we tour the battlements. The sky sits on our heads,
the wind is icy, salt herbage stretches seamlessly into a sullen sea.
I conjure galleons, bristling with cannon, hundreds looming through the mist,
hoisting the flags of Christendom and Louis’ France,
ready to capture back the Holy Land.
You leave my side, walk on, beckon.
Then I see, there, far beneath the walls,
four Camargue horses
long streaming manes and arching necks
cantering before the wind.
Years later now, I mix my paints: black, blue, white, hints of pink.
With careful strokes the picture comes alive:
sky, sea, marsh ,white horses
and I recall your smile of satisfaction,
as you found, for your mother,
Horses of the Camargue.