Young and Old

I was introduced to sixteen-year-old Minnie Marks on the blog called A Mermaid in the Attic. I was so blown away I had to throw together a post to share the discovery.

Oh to be 16 with so much talent and… I’m searching for the right word without being patronizing. I would say from her outfit she has a sense of humor and playfulness and gutsiness.

I like it.

At that age, I was hiding in the band practice room at lunchtime so I didn’t have to try and find someone to sit with in the lunchroom. Talk about shy and terrified of my own shadow!

I really wish I hadn’t wasted so much of my life being afraid. And regrettably, I’m still struggling.

With my birthday approaching this week, one of my sister’s brought this poem to my attention:

When I am an Old Horsewoman

When I am an old horsewoman
I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.

I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.

I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to all
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.

-By Patty Barnhart
Originally published in The Arabian Horse World magazine in l992

When I read this poem, I loved the idea of being that horsewoman, but then I remembered that I no longer have a barn and horses in my backyard and I felt a little sad.

Can I not be that woman that I had pictured in my mind being for so long? So often I have had to revamp the dream ideal in my head, the person I thought I would become, the kind of life I would have. But no matter the trappings, the core is there and what I think is this:

Now that I’m an old horsewoman
Or old woman in general
I shall wear whatever I damn well please
Be it overalls and rubber boots
Or a skin tight “Kiss my ass” t-shirt

I will sneak out
In the middle of the night
In my summer PJ’s
With a glass of Bonterra
(My favorite organic Cabernet)
I will stare at the moon
And listen to the owls
Intently measuring
What they say

I will make my home
A fantasy farm
With a prairie
Instead of a lawn
(Take that suburbia!)
With dogs, cats, and chickens
And gardens up the wazoo

I will be completely inappropriate
And smile slyly at the “looks”
I will laugh loudly and obnoxiously
With all my teeth showing
Even the shiny gold crowns
I will rejoice in dog antics
Luke’s catch me if you can games
My friends stories and adventures
And all the crazy, zany bits of life
Happening everyday

I will trail ride until my hips groan in despair
Then I’ll pop a few Advil
Cross my legs over the front of the saddle
And ride on some more
I will hike with my dogs
On hilly, rocky paths
Even if I now require a walking stick

I will sing “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”
In my raunchiest voice
Even if no one is hitting
Yes, I will be an embarrassment to some
But that’s just part of the fun

I will do what I long to do
And dare to say what I should
And maybe also what I shouldn’t
I will find voice and images
For the things that burn
Deepest in my heart

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  1. LOVE!!!!
    Wow– that is one old soul in that little gal. Nice find! Love your poem. Hey– did you notice the feather on her guitar? Maybe you’ll inappropriately wear feather earings or something. 🙂

  2. WoW, I’m absolutely blown away by her talent and confidence!!! Thanks for sharin’…gives me hope for the rest of us!!! Heeehehe!

    Loved the poems girl!

    God bless and may your day be simply amazin’!!! :o)

  3. Isn’t it sad that so many of us know who/what we are at our core, but never dare to really be that? I mean, what are we waiting for!? No one else is going to do ‘us’ better than we can. Really great poem Maery! Shine on! We’ve earned the right to design our own ‘old womanhood.”

  4. I’ve always liked that first poem. It was very touching and sentimental.

    Your rendition is now my favorite, for being real, and true and raw down to the core. That’s the way I think we all yearn to be.

    You go girl. I hope we can grow old together and follow along on each other’s lives. 🙂


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