Article Title

Horse Latitudes


Robert Rebein


The worst month of my life was spent in an unairconditioned hotel room in Kairouan, Tunisia, September 1989. I had no friends and no money, an unfinished Master's thesis hanging over my head, and a case of dysentery so bad I might have died had the hotel staff not forced me to drink cup after cup of salted rice water. Throughout my weeks-long illness, I could hear the sounds of horse-drawn carts echoing in the cobblestone streets just beneath my window. Clippity clop, clippity clop, clippity clop . . . Sometimes, when a cart was parked directly in front of the hotel, I could hear the horse snort or shift in its traces. These sounds, so otherworldly and yet so familiar, never failed to comfort me. Gradually the desire to get well again got mixed up in my mind with the need to stroke the withers of these animals which I could hear but not see. The horses, I would murmur in my delirium, I've got to get down to the horses . . . Entire days were spent in this hallucinatory state.