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Boy Leading a Horse

 

Three Horses by Erri De Luca is a book that reaches the heart, speaks of a gardener, who communicates with the plants and ask them where they want to be planted, speaks of love and of solidarity. Human life is as long as the sum of the lives of three horses: three years a hedge three hedges a dog, a horse three dogs, three horses a man (from an Italian rhyme). The protagonist of the story is at the end of the second horse life, when he seems to have found peace while working in a garden of a friend. "Without beauty the tree can't manage," thinks the gardener and narrator "So I stop at one spot in the field and ask, 'Is this where you want to be?'"

Three Horses is a book about the joy of living in the present, to enjoy the little gifts that life offers us every day, with the memories of the past of the main caracter that burst continuously. The past of the protagonist is Argentina, which has become part of him and he still bears the wounds, a memory of the beloved woman known in the mountains, while climbing the second pillar of Tofana di Rozes. Just while bypassing the second roof, Dvora, his assigned before knowing her, cries her greeting "Ole". His climbing partner yells to hurry to get to an anchor, but he knows only to do and say "Ole" for a minute and then he shout the name of the shelter where they'll descend back from climbing...

The present is a garden to care for, a woman with whom he falls in love, an African who reads the future in the ashes. Three Horses is a wonderful book, which I read in one breath. The rhythm of reading sometimes speeds, sometimes quiets over a coffee prepared outdoors in a garden , where the protagonist finds its balance and live in harmony:
"I tell her immediately that it's the end of February, and the apricot tree is already starting to bloom. The cold will dry its sap, and it won't give fruit.
As a joke, she asks whether the garden's owner will mind having no apricots. "No," I say, "but I can't stand my powerlessness to restrain the tree. I'm a gardener, and I don't know how to keep it from rushing into bloom when it's still winter. And then I feel responsible for the garden."
"You'd think you were Adam," she says, and closes the door.
I give her the bottle; she returns it with a corkscrew, and goes to the stove to stir the sauce. A narrow back, backbone curved like a whip, arms and shoulders sprouting from the trunk. "What a beautiful tree you are," I say, holding her between myself and the flame."

 

The image is a detail of a painting of Pablo Picasso, Boy Leading a Horse, 1906