You’ll begin by gathering some friends to meet in a dingy classroom and start practice on a drum set with busted heads and an amp with crunchy outputs.
You’ll be bad at first. Or maybe not terrible, but awkward and too loud. But it will be fun to make noise and write songs that aren’t so serious, and maybe a few that are. You’ll laugh harder than you have in years. You’ll leave practice looking forward to the next one.
You never really believe you’re going to wake up one morning and find that the world you knew is gone. Sometimes you wonder, “Is this it?” when you read about the latest natural disaster that is worse than any before recorded, another rogue nation and its uranium enrichment, or the latest plunge of an economy.
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.
Over the past eight years I have check cattle in and out at the livestock auction whenever monetary need arises or I find myself longing to spend time with bovines. Not following the traditional path of a woman in the livestock industry, I work in the yards alongside the men and in direct contact with the animals. While the hours are long, the pay low, and the working conditions dangerous, I have counted it all worthwhile because I can indulge in my favorite pastime – cow watching.
The dining area smelled like ammonia. It was nauseating. Sarge could taste it in the lukewarm stew on the table in front of him. His feet were freezing, and the cold white-speckled floor offered no comfort. Through the window, Sarge could see a few prisoners walking in the garden.