Photo & Poem: Hand-Me-Downs


Leota would send a note warning that she’d
put something in the mail and we waited.
She was a distant relative who never visited,
but she had girls older than us. Soon a big

cardboard box arrived filled with pleated
wool skirts and pastel sweaters; good school
clothes, all store-bought. Leota’s girls must
have lived in town. My older sister wore them

first and finally passed them down to me.
After that, I saved them for good, imagining
I came from a better family, an impostor trying
to pass for someone prettier, or at least less

awkward. Even now, I don’t dress myself,
wearing my hair like the young mare with
the cowlick that sets her untidy mane at odd
angles, never willing to behave. Marching with

big clomping strides on borrowed hooves.
Squinting to see the world through that bay
horse’s proud dark eye. Forever trying to fit
into the old gelding’s hand-me-down spots.

Anna Blake at Infinity Farm

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Anna Blake

20 thoughts on “Photo & Poem: Hand-Me-Downs”

  1. Be proud, Anna. You were a participating recycle activist long before it became the thing to be! I, too, was an unwitting member of that club.
    HashTagMeToo! re this and all your photos!

  2. Childhood dynamics! my mom was a thrift store queen. As soon as I could buy for myself everything had to be new. Now 50? years later I can/will still only wear brand new clothes! I laugh about that and appreciate that I don’t have to thrift on clothes. My sisters love a good bargin though. Still feel like I’m ‘in costume ‘ when I’m in the city! I’ve been told thet I sound like a horse when I walk. I took that as a compliment. ? Thanks for a smile of remembering, grateful for your writings and the day. ? TAZ

    • I did occur to me that this is what we did before thrift stores (in the 50s in rural Minnesota, we had church bazaars.) Thanks Taz.

  3. Mine didn’t arrive in a box, they were delivered by a petite Aunt. I went to school in some very either too fancy or too matronly outfits. Not cool. They did the best they could.

  4. At 64, I still happily accept “hand-me-ups”… I have other things I’d rather spend my hard-earned money on, and besides, when they start to fade, the cows and horses just don’t care…


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