The drifts were long fins

The drifts were long fins, that reminded me of Cadillacs or the long ridges you see out west, called the same. The wind had drawn the snow along the ice in our yard, into shapes graceful as ballerinas but crusted hard. I admired them as I walked to the barn.

Tessie looked better this morning, with no snot dripping from her nose. She’d gotten wise to the pills in the apple last night. I hate shoving apple juice lace with antibiotics into her mouth, so I didn’t shove. I told her that I had to do this to make her feel better, that it wouldn’t taste good, and by the Lord, she let me put it in her mouth, three times, without a halter, without force. I told her what a great mare she was and fed her sweet feed.

I tell you they understand our words, not just our intent, but our words. My trainer thought I was nuts when I told her this, but she tried it and she said, she had to agree, our horses hear us. Why wouldn’t they? Thousands of years horses have been tied to our destiny. They have helped us settle into the earth (or against it depending on how you view civilization.)

I think of Balaam’s donkey, who stood up to his whacking her sides, and the angel who finally showed up rebuking the prophet, “She saved your ass, you fool. I would have spared her but not you, my friend.” Neither Balaam, the donkey, nor the angel thought it particularly strange she talked. The words say something like the Lord opened her mouth. People tell me their horses have spoken.

I think of creation groaning, how Jesus said rocks might cry out if the people were silenced, that last march into the city before he died, how there are other places where the earth is said to speak. I think of creation on its way to being fixed, how Jesus’ resurrection started something rolling, we don’t much see, but is there moving, shifting underground, under all our spirits, the Kingdom of God, here, now. And the animals have much to teach us despite the muteness so often between us.

I brought Morgen out and knew she wanted to tuck her bottom, to release it in an explosion of joy. But that frightens me. She could hurt me. But I don’t think she’s being disrespectful, or scary, no I think to ask her to stay. So I asked her to stay back until I walked to the gate. She stayed. I thanked her. She stayed again. Then I called her to come. Thanked her.

Bruce said she exploded in bucking when I walked off. He said it looked like joy.

Last night I curled up, comfortable, tucked on the pallet, the hay to my back, Morgen looking down, her eyes soft. I wept, sore from loneliness and plain tiredness. People I thought were friends, aren’t, at least not how I think friends should behave. I wonder at my generation, how we’ve been taught to leave the difficult people out of our lives, how we’ve been taught to put our dreams first, how I am difficult, how I am a maverick. I wonder where kindness went, how much it would cost to make small talk for a few minutes, or answer an email or FB message. Time. It takes time. I am afraid because Bruce and I have no children or family, and what will happen when one of us dies, or we grow frail.

The wind was so fierce yesterday, the snow blinding and I was spent, the novel I’m reading, In Sunlight and In Shadow, at the back of mind, the ending, where the beloved husband will die, leaving her, and this is the kind of love I have known with Bruce, and I was rattled by the wind, like my mother used to be, the days after snow when the wind roared as hard as I was seeing it, so I called Bruce, saying it’s bad, out here, come home at noon.

He was not happy. He wants to work, to pay bills, fattened by the cold weather. He said the roads were not bad. So we went still. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I read student work. (They are good kids, taking to the books I’ve chosen.) I told him I was lonely.

When I came in from the barn, he’d made a dish of pudding and I opened Facebook to Julie Murphy tagging me, saying she wished we could go to breakfast at Eggsclusive Cafe. And this morning on Facebook I was tagged by a southern friend, Dan Blankowski posting a joke with a horse on a couch and how we should bring our pets inside and Frankie Benson advising me on shoes.

This morning the tire came off the rim of our tractor. Bruce said he had to leave to get it fixed. Fine, fine. By the time I dragged the muck bucket out I saw he’d blocked the Kubota on three blocks, had the bucket dug into the earth and the other tire on a block. I wondered how he figured that one out.

Later our neighbor backed in to scoop out a path. He said Bruce had come by, but they couldn’t seal the tire, so he went on to the tractor dealer. Bruce told me later the place was closed, but someone was plowing snow, and Bruce wasn’t going to leave, so he stopped the guy, got him to open up and they worked on putting the tire on the rim. He said he bought the machine from them, thank you and walked out. (I think I will stop by and offer to pay.) He came home with lunch. And finished our yard, breaking up those lovely fins and ridges.

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About Katie Andraski

I come to the ground, the ground comes to me. My novel The River Caught Sunlight was just published. Here's a description: "Sometimes a person has to leave home, even if that home is the most marvelous place she's ever lived, even if her mother will be diagnosed with terminal cancer, and her beloved farmer, a man she's loved for years asks her to marry him." I have taught composition at NIU for twenty years and have been writing ever since I was a little girl. My husband and I live on a farm with horses, dogs, chickens and one not so feral cat.
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