Kathleen Cain
High Plains Parable

We bypass Death as quickly as we can, between Limon and Brush, after spotting pronghorns—not antelope at all, my brother says, but the only living member of the family Antilocapradae (where the deer play and the pronghorns run for their lives, faster than any mammal in N. America). We heed the sign “Accident Ahead” (how’dtheyputhatupsoquick?—my brother again), Hail-Mary it past shards of silver fender—can’t tell make or model—and one brown pillow embroidered with yellow yarn in the passing lane. Meet the wrecker coming the other way. More pronghorns. A redtail or two. Mule deer at the verge, wild turkey—at a distance hard to tell apart from small cedars (not of Lebanon, but western, red).

“Outlaw Sodomy” (Nebraska now), white-washed admonition hand-painted on a silage bin. On tires nailed to fence posts for half a mile, Burma-Shave style. More warnings. Dire. “Save Me,” the final plea. Between Kearney and Grand Island, sandhill cranes glean the fields on the latest leg of their journey, begun ten million years ago: relief from brutality of accident and belief, sermons uttered on the wing. Pray to the sky.

Pray often. Pray early. Pray late.