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Pecking Order

By Katie Ganfield

Doug swung the saddle easily over his left arm, cradling the skirt on an arm sudsy and stained mahogany by the hard work that must be done in the tack shed, and it was obvious he was strong and I was not, the horses knew that as well while they gorged themselves in the pasture, where soon they loosed manure in steady plopping streams, in rhythm with their shearing of the hip-high grass that surrendered to eight efficient sets of 40 (less some bridle teeth in the mares), and every tooth yellowed at the base and seven times as long as ours and deserving of my respect, for when a chestnut pinto snapped like a small novelty firework on a sidewalk, he snuck a bite of Doug’s daughter’s bare shoulder and that wound bruised black-purple, the color of the nightshade berries that dangled over every trail.

Kathryn Ganfield is a nature writer and essayist who has always lived in river towns, including her current home of St. Paul, Minnesota, from which she’s rafted words to Up North Lit, Portage Magazine, Tiny Seed Journal, The Talking Stick, and soon the Eastern Iowa Review.

Art by Jeff Kallet.


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