Category Archives: works_published

Flesh Undone

Literary Mama

You realize you don’t have a baby book for your son. What if something happens to you and there’s no baby book? For 22 years, you’ve kept the photos, footprints, and plastic hospital bracelets in a box, somewhat organized. Still, there are no dates or milestones written on the back. You remember why, what survival feels like. And you remember that you didn’t want to remember .

Read the entire essay online at Literary Mama.

Rato Must Twirl

Provo Canyon Review

If Huckleberry Finn ever came back to earth as a cat, then I think I knew him. His name was Rato.

Rat. O.

You got it.

Orange, scrappy and dotted with freckled scabs around his mouth, Rato wasn’t born with any sense. But somehow this ginger cat found his way onto our land. Unwanted, pure and simple, and he never pretended he was.

Read the entire essay online at Provo Canyon Review. 

A New Bitterroot

Still, The Journal

I.

My new stepfather liked to circle the classifieds, always checking if there was an accessory he could add to his new family to make us more hip, more exciting. He thought our lives dull until we met him, especially poor old Frank across the street who pumped our bike tires. Frank would sit on his driveway for hours waiting for a kid to roll up. He’d make us hold the cap to the stem.

        “Don’t lose that cap,” he’d smile, holding the black nub in front of a sweaty child face. Sometimes we’d let the air out of our tires on purpose, just to give Frank joy.

“A New Bitterroot” was selected as the 2013 Creative Nonfiction Contest Judge’s Selection for Still, the journal and can be read online.

Scrub Defined

Mason's Road

I.

I learned about the word “migrant” from a pinkish redneck in a plaid shirt.

“You know what we’re going find out here don’t you, little girlie,” he said partly to me and partly to the scrub palmetto he motioned to with a burly freckled arm. He had stumpy stained nicotine teeth and curly bristly hair, like a wild boar. He was there with his bushwhacker to clear our property. I was brought along for company, but I liked the country, so I didn’t mind. I was thirteen.

Full essay published by Mason’s Road

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