Friday, September 14, 2012

Arles: Feria du Riz

Photo ©Fraser Shiells, by permission

Sitting at lunch beneath the shade
we heard the gunfire - loud, sharp - 
and then the growing noise of cheers
above the music of the band
and rushed to line the barricade
between us and the road.
And what came next was troubling to
the me that thinks I’m civilised
as horses clattered in the dust
and lances waved and suddenly
I saw the bulls - small, dusty, black
and gone: a swiftness barely seen
as bodies swirled and young boys clawed
and darted in among the hooves
and grabbed and cheered and strutted there.
And my blood raced in sympathy
as small dogs yapped beside my legs
and all my civilised disdain
was pulverised and lay in dust.

C.M. 09/12

This was a fascinating, thrilling and ultimately disturbing experience - the more so because I had not anticipated the event. I'm grateful to my friend Fraser Shiells for his photo - the speed of everything made it hard to capture, and this moment, when one of the bulls escaped the corralling horses and headed back down the road on its own, was especially dramatic.