Author Archives: Kerri Dieffenwierth

How to Climb an Airboat Cage

New Southerner

It’s a date, or rather, three’s a crowd. My sister’s boyfriend, Cary Boy, will swing by our place Saturday morning at seven for a cruise on his airboat. It’s my job to make ham sandwiches and “stay the hell out of the way,” my sister Katy’s mantra ladled with the rich venom only homecoming queens can dish.

Although my sister acts like she doesn’t want me along, I know that for this particular outing, she’s relieved to have my company. Even at 17, I’m still tomboy enough to dig an airboat ride. We’ve both grown up on five acres in Delray Beach, at the edge of the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, but I’m the only one who’s really embraced the place.

Full essay published by New Southerner.

Crab Promise

the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature

I told Mother that the fresh sheets of dry wall lining our barn’s feed room didn’t reach all the way to the ceiling – things were figuring a way in. But the smooth gray panels looked fresh for a while, until the snakes, spiders and other critters snuck past.

Mother and I tried to make that room cozy. Saddles hung on wood racks; bridles draped neatly from brass horse heads that I won as trophies. We used the orange twine that held hay bales together to string dozens of my ribbons near the ceiling. Blue, red, yellow, white, pink, and green stood for first, second, third, four, fifth and sixth place. Multi-colored pendants stood for champion. Within the year, though, the crisp ribbons grew cobwebs and faded. We kept my trophies at the house. They had evolved from plastic gold statues of horses to coffee mugs to horse blankets to real sterling silver to checks that were quickly cashed.

Full essay published by the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

Grasping The Reins For a Ride to Freedom

Tampa Bay Times

Hazy steam rises from the stallion’s back as he snorts and sashays across the entrance to the track. I reach down to pat his dark, damp shoulder, and I can feel his muscles rippling under my palm. I breathe deeply, inhaling the sweet mustiness of hay, horses and Florida dew. I can do this. Or not. I have no idea.

“Go ahead and throw your cross,” whispers the rider next to me, as he studies my hands closely. He is scowling, this judge of my 6 a.m. job interview — my ability to navigate a racehorse around a gray oval of groomed sand.

This essay was the winner of a writing contest co-sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times and Saint Leo University. The full essay can be read on the Tampa Bay Time online.

Antlers in the Grass

Wanderlust and Lipstick

The beefy woman on the big black horse in front of me seemed to sway her hips extravagantly from side to side, as if on purpose. Her kind gelding dutifully lowered his head and continued to stride smoothly through tall summer grasses and crushed wildflowers.

There I was in thrift chic denim glory – surrounded by simple, rugged beauty, in the middle of a trip I spent years planning. And all I could focus on was the hip action, head bobbing and unpleasant traits of a stranger. Maybe the rhythmic movement of my own horse had put me in some kind of ancient Sangre de Cristo Mountains mean trance of shallowness. Or maybe I just needed to change my dashboard scenery.

Read the full piece at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Copyright © 2019 Kerri Dieffenwierth