Mother placed my fingers
on the Underwood’s home row
index fingers on F and J.
Hover your thumbs over the space bar
she told me wrists raised, eyes up.
Dad set the grip of a cut-down
golf club onto my left palm
placed my right hand on top. Hold it
gently he said like a baby bird.
Addie boosted me onto Babe’s saddle
threaded the reins around my fingers.
Make a fist she instructed press the thumbs
straight down against the leather.
Jamie, big sister, laced my fingers
tips down index fingers and thumbs up.
Here is the church, here is the steeple
thumbs flew apart, hands flipped
open the doors and see all the people.
See all the people, their faces.
Hear all the people, their voices.
Janet and Jamie on Horseback (snapshot, circa 1950)
Copyright © held by Janet MacMillan Rives. All rights reserved.
—Poem and snapshot are from the author’s in-progress series of poems and memoir essays, Horsebarn Hill. See also her memoir essay Living in Our Kitchen here in Issue 17 of MacQ.
was born and raised in Connecticut and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where she moved after retiring from the University of Northern Iowa as a professor of economics. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Lyrical Iowa, Raw Art Review, The Ekphrastic Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Sandcutters, Crosswinds, Creosote, and Canary, as well as in a number of anthologies. Her first chapbook, Into This Sea of Green: Poems from the Prairie, was published in 2020 (Finishing Line Press). Her second chapbook, Washed by a Summer Rain: Poems from the Desert, is forthcoming in 2023 (Kelsay Books).