Poetry! The best poets, with an economy of words, can bring us ideas that hurtle through our heads with the speed and power of an express train or come in quietly through the door of our minds and pass through gently leaving their footprints. In “Horse Prayers” Anna Blake comes in quietly and leaves not only footprints but hoofprints. Horse Prayers is an enchanting collection of poems about life on the Colorado prairie. The poems speak mostly of horses and donkeys, but also dogs, goats and the prairie itself.
The poems are divided into sections of Moons: Wolf Moon, Pink Moon, Strawberry Moon, Harvest Moon, Hunter Moon, and Cold Moon. Each moon has a thread that runs through it. My two favourites were in Wolf Moon; both told of the relationship we have with horses that is not about their submission to humans, or the humans’ control of horses but our link with them that spans millennia and how, if we quiet our chattering human minds, we can open ourselves to the horse and learn who we really are.
Here is one of the poems that spoke volumes to me.
We felt them close,
before we had skin,
from an infinite prairie
the vibration began.
A slow rolling nicker
rumbled, more felt
than heard. Horses
called to us before
we were born, so we
would remember their
warm breath when we
first saw fairy-tale images
in children’s books. We
were theirs long before
we called them our own.
Here is the other poem that will remain long in my memory.
Eyes averted, shuffling an invisible
walk. A predator who feels like sad prey,
trying to pass for normal, trying to
hold balance. It doesn’t fool the mare.
She sees it all, distant movements in
her periphery or tiny broken parts deep inside
complicated humans; bruised
children in aged bodies;splintered.
Intentions colored with anger,brittle
berayed love, honor abandoned for
sake of convenience. Details are less
important to the mare that the sour
emotions we hold tight. It isn’t her
job to patch us up and make us whole,
but for the moment , she can let us feel
what it would be like if we were.
Anna Blake understands the truth of why horses are so important to us. We all know, even non horse people know, that horses are so good with autistic children, wounded warriors with PTSD, all types of mental disorders and physical disabilities. Why are they so good? It is not just because they are docile. There are other docile animals. Why not cows instead of horses? The answer lies somewhere in the mists of time and our evolution together.
There is a Native American legend that the Great Spirit created all the animals and then told them that he was going to create Man and that Man would need help. The Great Spirit asked for an animal to come forward and help Man. There was a pause. Then Horse stepped forward and said: “I will help Man.”
It does not really matter if you believe this creation story or not. For me it is a good illustration of our relationship with horses. This relationship is explored brilliantly by Anna Blake in her book Horse Prayers.
This is an enchanting book and I would recommend that you buy two copies; one to keep and one(or more) to give away to friends, whether they are horse people or not. Reading these poems will transport you to the world of the Colorado Prairie and the world of horses . It will take you to a very special understanding of where we, as humans, fit in.
*All photos in this post copied from Horse Prayers by Anna Blake*