His mother was raised to follow the meander of a prairie creek and find the meadows where sheep once grazed last century. Some things could be taken from the earth. Agates from a river bank or six scoops from a shovel filled her bucket with worms traded at a crossroads gas station for a cheeseburger and a malt or sometimes a darning needle and new cotton batting for another quilt. 
In this way he came to follow the creases in the earth – the gullies and ravines leading to the river. Down river from the county dump he found abandoned appliances, gutted the copper lines and added them to the coils in the back of his father’s truck. After a month of riding the coulees, he could buy more books on his list: maybe an English/German dictionary or a used copy of Les Miserables.
He learned tracks were easier to find if he waited for the fields to burn. He found circles of rock, once –the remains of a teepee village.  Arrowheads, elk teeth and beaded buttons.  Stretched out on the prairie grass — earth between his fingers, he imagined hearing buffalo parties heading out, the snap from a campfire, and hides stretched against the poles. How many books would these artifacts buy? He pressed his ear to the ground, then held still and listened.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

7 responses to “>bury

  1. >that first image makes me homesick.

  2. >Such beautiful images–beautiful landscape. Thank-you for sharing this ~

  3. >I love the pictures. This sounds like an opening to a short story. We are just learning a bit about him, the depth of his character, and we want to know more. I love this line: "In this way he came to follow the creases in the earth – the gullies and ravines," and the concept of using his money to buy books, and specifically "an English/German dictionary and a used copy of Les Miserables."

  4. penjandrum

    >Beautiful photos – I love the way they tie with the text. Even with the poignancy in it, there is a gentle warm wind over that grass, and it will be well with the boy, finally. Good one.Penny

  5. >Just got caught up on your last several posts and pictures. So wistful and meaningful.

  6. >Sherry, This is beautiful – the photos, the way the land itself is the benefactor, providing the means to acquire what they wish for. I know that I have lost what touch I had with the land…apartment dwelling and staying close to home…but the piece makes me think of my farming grandfather and my father, who was the first generation to work indoors but who still had the knowledge, the ties.

  7. >maggie may,everytime i visit my sister's farm i feel "home" again. it is good to share this link with you.karyn,this part of montana doesn't get the attention other parts of the state receives, so i am pleased to hear these photos touched you.annie,i've been trying to gear up (or down?) to start writing more flash or short stories- your comment is encouraging. the story was a poem turned a touch of flash. your words inspire me to keep trying.penny,you have your ear to the ground. way cool.kass,always good to hear from you, thank you!marylinn,i grew up in the country and was surprised to find myself living in town as an adult. i like what you said about the land being a benefactor and the way your family before you had knowledge of the ties.

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