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July 2017, vol 13 no 2

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Maureen Kingston

A Trysting Place

I cross the 100th meridian, pull off the road to mark the occasion, to stretch my legs. The Great Plains – nowhere to hide, a harsh landscape of motion and commotion. Tornadoes and blizzards. Stampeding herds. Pounding pumpjacks.

Standing beside my car in the morning sun, I sense none of the region’s anxiety. The steady wind, cloudless sky, meadowlark song – all invite me to drop my guard and forget what I know to be true. The forces of communion and danger often use the same trick dice.

When Horace Greeley advised, “Go West, young man,” I know he wasn’t imagining me – an old woman hell-bent on exploring. Could he have imagined me though? Does anyone imagine old women on purpose?

Goya’s drawing Pesadilla suddenly pops into my head: an old woman in a nightgown, bed sheet flying, riding a lascivious bull. Close, I think. A near miss. To achieve perfection, Goya would’ve needed to tweak the facial expressions a bit, shift the knowing grin from the bull’s face to the old woman’s.

prison escape
through a wall crack
wild roses grow

Editor's Note: Francisco Goya's Pesadilla (Nightmare) can be viewed here.