Winter 1995 • Vol. XVII No. 1 Fiction |

My Elizabeth

I tipped my forehead to the window and watched as we passed another Indian, black-bronze in the sun, thumb in the air. I was twelve and Uncle Orson was six years older. We'd started our trip in New York City, and I hadn't paid much attention until about two days in, when we began passing long wings of pivot irrigation and the sky started to look like it had been scoured with salt water. We passed power lines that stood like square-shouldered figures at attention, past grain and silo storage bins, glowing aluminum with pointed tops. At the time I didn't know the names for any of those things; I'd never known that America unraveled as you moved west, until it ran straight as a pulled strand and the trees shrank back into acres of sorghum, beans, corn, and wheat. I stared through the truck window at things mysterious as letters in a foreign language. My uncle's name had been Omar Bin Nader, but when he first pulled up to my father's apartment on Central Park, he introduced

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