Fiction: The Wind Sweeps Over the Prairie

May 22, 2013

Pa said I could marry anybody, as long as I had permission first. Pa said I should pick a man who knows how to drive cattle but keep a gentle hand for his wife, a man who could crack the whip on stubborn rough hide but also deliver a colt with patience and tenderness. “A horse knows a man’s intentions,” Pa would say. A horse needs a gentle hand sometimes, or even whispered words. Some people think it’s superstitious to talk to animals because animals can’t understand. They think animals are stupid and can’t tell between cruelty and kindness. Some of the boys who used to work on our ranch were like that. They would knock around an animal and think it felt nothing. Pa fired a man who used to kick the turkey out of the way during feedings. The turkey would stand by the entrance all fluffed up, showing off shiny bronze tail feathers, and that man would give it a hard kick in its chest. He wanted to make it clear who was in charge.

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