The dawn reached pale tender fingers over the hills
and the small band of travelers woke
and felt the brilliance in their souls.
With their horses they paced patiently down streets black with tar;
Or they jogged through quiet French villages where stone cottages
lined the paths and curious faces peered beyond wooden shutters.
The Dordogne valley was fertile and vast,
but the riders stood to cross it.
The crew was a melange of people,
from weathered cowboys to graceful women bathed in lace.
The youngest of the travelers was a small girl with stars in her eyes.
She had waited for this trip forever. Finally the journey was within reach.
The riders moved with their patient mounts,
feeling muscles sliding beneath them,
and the great steady heartbeat thudding between their knees.
The horses were as varied as the humans;
They gleamed in a spectrum of black and brown to dappled pearly white.
The finest of all the horses was the girl's mount.
She was silvery gray with a long creamy white mane.
When she walked, she was like the smooth stalking panther, muscles rolling
imperceptibly under the skin.
When she ran, her legs flew like a flutist's skillful fingers.
They climbed ever upwards through harsh bracken and bush
up twisting rock faces, until the riders shuffled wearily in the dirt and
sweat gleamed on the coppery bodies of their steeds.
The girl followed her horse's steady plodding hooves ever up and up...
Until they stopped above the clouds.
Here on the green flat summit of the mountain, the riders saw all the valley,
Like a writhing blue snake cutting across fields of green.
The gods themselves could not have felt higher.
The horses, however, had their thoughts elsewhere. Their steps were
eager and delighted.
The riders retook their saddles, and the steeds sprouted wings and soared
across the mountaintop.
Never had the girl felt such a rush of joy as keen as pain. The wind
whistled thin music to her ears, and a god's brilliance shone upon them.