Thursday, October 11, 2012

Twisted Vagabondage Tale From Manitoba Canada

W.O. Mitchell described prairie as the least common denominator of nature: land and sky. My life on the prairie sometimes seems to be the least common denominator of marriage: food production and food preparation. This is how it felt as a hired man and my man came in from the field for dinner.

As they finished washing up, I listened to their talk of crop and cattle and prepared the table. I laid everything in such a manner, yet did either of them notice? I wanted them near me, to smell their sweat mixed with grease and oil, powerful after nine hours in the field. Would either of them mention the waste of rosewater I had dabbed at the base of my neck, a gesture so foolish.

Through the meal, the hired man stole appreciative glances, my appetite soon was lost in disarray. I sought his eyes with the sensual looks, the slight smirk of a game I'd never played before. I kept looking at my husband and he, well, he just looked at his plate.

My hands shook as I filled the wood stove, but the heat was nothing compared to what that farm hand wrought. The slick snap of the clothes on the line startled me into the present and how hard it was to stay clean when my passion was rampant. He carried his dishes to the basin, our forearms grazed and the moment strayed. Odd how some sensations you know you'll never forget.

They left to catch the last bit of a work day. Against the setting sun, I watched dust devils keeping the men company as a Red-tailed Hawk plotted above the matched draft horses that plodded steadily. My hands clenched anxiously behind my back. I watched him and the man I married. Barn cat curled around my dress wondering why it was not fed. Would it seem too obvious taking the scraps to the barn later. The chickens scratched at my feet in nervous anticipation.

Paula Lietz lives in Manitoba, Canada. The isolation and rugged beauty of her prairie environment informs both her literary and visual aesthetic. A deceptive silence of whispering wind can suddenly be punctuated by a hunter's gunshot or a train that roars along tracks cut through the flat expanse. This juxtaposition of organic silence and artificial aural assault has inspired her many photographic works, like the one featured above. The crisp, magical clarity of a prairie night sky inspires the journalistic observation mixed with imaginative interpretation in her writing.

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