Nebraska Center for Writers

NOT JUST ANY LAND
by John T Price

DURING MY FIRST HOUR on the Dakota grasslands it was dark and cold and the walls of my tent were puffing, the top lifting. Waves of drizzle spattered against the nylon. I was sitting inside, legs crossed, hands clutching both drapes of the tent flap, peering out of the mosquito netting. Out there, I reminded myself, is buffalo Gap National Grassland, nearly six hundred thousand acres of mixed-grass prairie. But I could see nothing through the dark and the mist, not one blade of grass, not one star. In an effort to "feel" the open space, to absorb its character, its magnitude, I closed my eyes. I wanted something special to make this as an arrival, something spiritual, mystical — God.

Reprinted with permission
from Not Just Any Land
Copyright © 2004
by John T Price
U of Nebraska P


MAN KILLED BY PHEASANT
by John T Price


PUT THE BABY BIRD DOWN, the patrol boy says. It's momma is coming back and it'll give you lice.
I tell him I don'[t care about lice and that I'm going to take the bird to my own momma, but is he in the mood to listen? No. He's in the fifth grade and thinks that wearing a badge and holding a sharp-edged stop sign the size of a pizza dish gives him the power to decide life and death. Another time he might be right, but on this particular spring day, this particular baby bird needs my help #&151; I spotted it in the new wet grass, shivering, on its side, its leg sticking straight out the way they do when things aren't right. Now it's cupped in my hands, a soft freckled ball, and I think it isn't shivering so much as before.

Reprinted with permission
from Man Killed by Pheasant
Copyright © 2008
by John T Price
Da Capo/Perseus


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