It starts so early – desire. Red toy truck, weeks on the top shelf behind the counter. Her little hands reached – fingers poised to feel its metal. What is an allowance at three years old? Saved and saved, and one day the truck came down. Red and chrome and hydraulic tail gate and black tires. Armload of joy – fulfillment – absolute right. How do we say that life is nonlinear? Mountain roads have switchbacks, and rivers have oxbows and meanders.
So young it starts. Like the cowboy suit in the miniscule black and white photos. 1955. Texas. Women in flowing skirts and men in suit pants and shirtsleeves. Laughing child in chaps, boots, checkered shirt, cowboy hat. Happy baby.
How can we know that cowboy suit and truck were perfect fits but tight patent shoes with black buckle straps that cut into skin were not? Early flashes give way to toy soldiers, cowboys, plastic horses. Standing in line for first grade – the boys’ line – waiting for doors to open. Cowboys and Dale Evans – the Awakening Crush. Those ’50s weddings on TV with prizes and joy – brought certainty to a girl of six. Words have power to open the Red Sea or split chasms in hearts. Her clear declaration to marry another woman. Like lightning, Mother’s sharp intake of breath followed – a spear struck the earth between them forever.
Some traits breed true. Red truck and cowboy boots gave way to blue diesel pickup, work boots and jeans. Digging dirt for geological clues led to drilling rigs to mark the creep of oil through sodden sands, hard hats, respirators. Then home to a wife with fire in her guitar.
KATHERINE LEONARD grew up in the US and Italy as a post-WWII Navy brat living in states as diverse as the Massachusetts of John F. Kennedy at the time of his assassination and the segregation of rural Texas at the time of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. She has been a chemist, a geologist and an oncology nurse/nurse practitioner. She currently lives and writes in Central New York. Her work has been previously published in Healing Muse, Sonora Review, Writers Café Fairy Tale Edition, Underwood Press True Chili Edition, Northern New England Review, Hole in the Head Review, Literary North and Speckled Trout Review.