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Tag Archives: horses

found poem: poet

an in-between

Dorothy and foalI’ve written before about this time in my mother’s life — the war years, when she was single, a draftsperson at Lockheed, and part-owner of a horse, Easy Does It. She had friends and independence, and if she yearned for something else, the longing didn’t show on her face — either in the photos, or later, when she talked about those in-between years.

Easy Does It foaled, and in this picture Dorothy happily nuzzles the young horse, her pleasure transparent.

The photograph is damaged, a dark blotch at the top and a streak scarring the horse’s shoulder and leg. But what intrigues me is the complexity of shadows. In the foreground is the blurred shadow of Carmie, Dorothy’s friend, co-worker, and horse co-owner. But while the shadows of Dorothy and the pony are further away, they are crisply focused in a band of light that looks like a reflection from a window. Mysterious.

It makes me think of those tests where you’re asked to manipulate a shape mentally to match it to another shape. I keep rotating the figures and the light source in my mind to try to make sense of them, but I can’t quite figure it out.

We often take shadows for granted, giving our attention to whatever’s in the light. But shadows make visible the position of things, their depth and distance, their contours and density. These family photos and their small stories are simply my way of deciphering shadows.

found poem: I liked

found poem: break

found poem: write

found poem: RIDE

found poem: spiral

found poem: THE LETTER

found poem: the story

found poem: to craft

the horse

lamb…

somewhere…

in my head,

her tractor years

Dorothy on tractorIt’s hard for me to imagine my mother on a tractor, but there she is, next to a bare-chested and bereted man I can’t identify. She was a fair-skinned redhead who avoided the sun and could never be called outdoorsy, but there she is, in scarf and sunglasses, facing into the wide glare of afternoon.

Her tractor years were the war years, when she worked at Lockheed and was part-owner of a horse. She looks happy in the pictures from that time, unencumbered and unselfconscious. Her face is relaxed, her smile genuine. She has friends and work and, in a way that was unique in her lifetime, worth.

Perhaps the land and the horses and tractors — and the people who tended them — allowed her to forget her feelings of inadequacy and ugliness. Maybe she could stop comparing, stop measuring herself against others and against the lofty impossibility of her mother’s expectations.

A sketchbook always tucked into her purse or pocket, she has dirt on her shoes and the smell of horse on her hands. She has an easy comfort in her body, fresh air on her skin. I wish I had known her.

the mare and the manicure

Elsie and Easy Does It 1945During World War II, my mother worked as a draftsperson at Lockheed — the only job she ever held. She was divorced from her first husband and living on her own. The photos from that time don’t show her at her drafting table, but wearing boots and a bandanna at a small Chatsworth ranch where she was part-owner of a horse with two of her Lockheed friends.

It’s hard for me to imagine her pitching hay or mucking a stall, though the three young women look happy with their filly, Easy Does It. The pictures suggest a degree of carefree competence, of physicality, of outdoorsy fun that I never knew in my mother.

But one of my favorite photos from the time is of my Grandma Elsie, my mother’s mother. Born into Victorian comforts and constraints, Elsie was elegant throughout her life. It’s quite possible she didn’t own a pair of pants. Here, at age 60, skirted and stockinged, earringed and hatted, she sits with perfect posture to offer Easy Does It a morsel on her outstretched “Careful!-keep-your-hand-flat!” palm.

Dorothy remained friends with one of the other women for the rest of her life, but once my parents met — perhaps a year after this photo was taken — the horse, like the war and Dorothy’s brief tenure at Lockheed, slipped into a zone of nostalgic reverie. Her war so different from his; their life together all that mattered now.

between…

46…

horseshoe

Horseshoe ~ before
before

Horseshoe ~ during
during

Horseshoe © j.i. kleinberg
done!
Horseshoe © j.i. kleinberg 2011
second-hand shoe, thrift-store horses, fabric paint
created for the annual Stilettos on Parade at 12th Street Shoes, Bellingham, Washington
Postscript: Horseshoe tied for ‘People’s Choice’ award with Fairy by 2-year-old Kayleigh Finnegan.

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