The Mysterious Barricades

These bareback races are medieval in the modern sense: a bribe, a ruse, the occasional fall, fracture, and a bullet —but also in the sense of a retrieval of standards and emblems, the use of symbol, allegory, amulet, the team colors you cannot refuse. Tomorrow the terracotta dust will plume for about two minutes taking the imprint of horseshoes. The beasts will reslot themselves addorsed in bays like a train line terminus … Stone palazzos keep their iron rings, which served as hitching posts, antiquated and ornamental, rusted and simple, the kind of things the eye probes for the ghosts of the enduring and the gentle. Ahead of me walks an elderly pair, divorced in the modern sense: she employs him to manage her condo, keep the villa in good repair, til from tax exile (an expense of spirit in the wastes of Monte Carlo) she returns, scattering guests with her dogs and her armory of caustic appraisals and lightly flung (as he scoops up her favorite) jests: “Ah, you’re just his type, Amore— long brown hair, and much too young.”

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