Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Self-Portrait

I wrote this poem twelve years ago and it was published in an anthology titled Womankind (Anderie Poetry Press, 1995). While it didn’t win any of the first three places, it was one of ten honorable mentions. (Two hundred twenty-four poets each submitted a poem or two.) Today, I read “Self Portrait” to some 10th grade English classes who were studying poetry and biography:

Sun-branded lines hide
in the corners of my eyes,
wind-washed blush
ruddies my cheeks.

I wear my age lightly
like a familiar denim jacket
grown old and soft
from too much washing.

To make up for what
I missed in childhood,
late in life—at an age
when most women would dismiss
such an urge as foolishness—
I took up horseback riding.

Two decades of riding horses
(and a half-century of life)
have taught me this:
Taking up the reins of a horse
is not unlike taking up a life—
taming it, bending it to your desire,
guiding it to go where you will,
knowing when to hold it in check.

If the wind isn’t at your back,
you ride easier if you lean into it;
if you are unsure of the footing,
don’t go too fast;
always walk the first mile out
and the last mile back.

When you go
with the rhythm
of the horse,
you ride easy.


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