Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –
Though this is not a picture of myself, no one can believe it—including myself. In form, disposition, dress, and energy the likeness is all but exact. So it is an impossible "portrait," bending space and time; there are in life such mysteries. Student and friend Hannah Sidibe shared the photo with me because of the resemblance. The photographer is Felix Thiollier (1842—1914), and the unnamed horse trainer is doubtlessly his daughter.
In the mid-1990's I began a career working with horses, studying farriery (horseshoeing) and natural hoof wear as a science, and apprenticing in blacksmithing and equine veterinary medicine. Before that I was an academic, a professor of poetry and literature. But the horse touched me too strongly, like the inward pounding of the real world. I needed an earthly life—and the horse to me was the mood at the heart of the Earth. The first iteration of that vocation lasted fifteen years, a career that spanned continents, between America and Italy, and included all manner of horses, from elite competition horses to beloved backyard pets. Now, in Northern New Mexico, I am joyously returned to my work as a horsewoman. I work with horses because their very being is what in the realm of philosophy I have tried to describe as "a religion of sensitivity." Their kinetic power, beauty, and fragility, and their locus of emotion as communication is to me a kind of existential justice, a rightness of being. I have tried to live toward that justice, that inconsolable mood of horse.