By Alexander McShane Bradbury
Hot headed boy broke his arrows. He will shoot no more but instead sneak on them sparrows. Because the boy’s got a right to throw down his toys and take all the birds with his hands. When I asked him to take the dirt road to the hollow tree, where he keeps them dead shaded swallows, he looked to the house and held up a fist and said, Girl run. Run for the hills.
Bye bye toward town I ran on the gravel, away from the boy. In the dust he came up behind me with his bike. Just as I jumped in a ditch I heard the boy say, Don’t be anxious, hey-girl. I thought, Why why when I crawl them barb wires take hold of my shoe? That boy was after me. I kicked off my shoe and ran to the back forty. The same forty acres Dad was to drag under the harrow next day. Dad oughta put a stop to this. ’Cause he’s the law. He’s the law and the law says wrestlin’ never should take place in fields.
Still, that boy was after me. He brought me down on them cloddy rows. Normally I’d be in control of my breath but that time the boy broke me. That boy muddied my dress on the outside and inside I felt a bad weather comin’ on. The sun was lying down with us, out of sight. I wondered, Old sun ever come up red as it dies? The boy told me to be still. I wouldn’t have it. The wind left my chest. I thought, It’s okay. Sometimes that wind just gets away whether or not there’s any place for it to be escaping to. I felt the boy’s paws on my back. The wind whipped up a screaming. I heard his mother, calling him home for supper. But the farmer boy’s got no ears for orders. He pressed my face in the soil and hand shoved my shoulders. Still, like Mama, I kept my back taut as all power lines, strung between pine trees. My nerves, like the electric wires, were buzzing steady with energy. Even away from the timber there, in the field I could hear them. Their electric drone got me down. I collapsed. My ears were heavy from the boy’s words and other earthly dirt. They were heavy also with what I could say to myself in undertone. It was a sort of prayer, Dear God, and that I might like to get up and walk home now. When could this boy leave me alone? I’ll likely just lay here all sorry-eyed sight. Let the moon set around, a rain cloud come to rub me down and make my clothes clean. Ah-men.
Many many many many’s gonna find out this and run that boy out of town. Still, my tractor dad spread alfalfa seeds right where our bodies muddied up the rows. None can afford to work around the mess, for that my mama said the neighbor boy would be goin’ to bed hungry. Well as disowned, ’cause he didn’t come home when he was called. You hear me up there? As for your supper your Mama had to set it out for the rain dogs. Now they are baying unhappy. I went outside and think, What’s run up our oak today? It was you. You’re a bending that limb. I see you Boy. Up there, steady creaking with the crows. Who be, I hope, just addin’ a great weight on you. Birds and the dogs kept watch ’til I found who run up the oak outside my mama’s windows. Between Mama and Dad or anyone the thought came tell to look out, to look up.
And you there taller than the roof. You leave your mind down here with me, Boy? I got it, it’s thinkin’, So what’s the advantage of her, ’cause she’s a girl, and also when she’s down there? And if that tree don’t crack you’ll be also frightened for what’s coming. My Mama says your mischief busted Dad’s dull drums. She said he’s all wound up in an authoritative storm. Bad weather on its way. Do you hear in this mind, Treeboy? I tell you I hear it lumberin’ along the side yard now. Comin’ around to shake up your posture. Dad’s gonna grab you down from your perch. Because he’s the law. ’Cause he’s the law and ’cause I found you. The law law’s gonna find you done wrong. We’re gonna find out your weight over everything, Treeboy. You’ll be brung down like shingles less you run from this house.
Alexander McShane Bradbury lives and works in Iowa City, IA. This article was originally published in Little Village issue 193.