Jan/Feb 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 1 January 11, 2022 |

Tallgrass

2021 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest Winner Rattlesnakes took over the prairie dog town. Papa hands out the guns. Silo gets a Winchester rifle because he’s crazy. Verna gets one because she’s calm. Papa doesn’t trust me with a rifle, so he passes me a .410-bore shotgun. Only two rules, Papa says. We have to get them all, and I’m not allowed to run. We climb the fence and fan out. The prairie dogs are a quarter mile out into our four hundred forty acres, but I can see the burrows from here. This corner of western Nebraska is a flat skillet, horizon to horizon. There are places where I can get on Verna’s horse, Little Bit, and ride all day without hitting a fence. We have no irrigation, so Papa barely breaks even on the wheat. Every two years he rotates in alfalfa to build up the soil. Sometimes we do a little rye, some milo or other sorghum, but mostly we eat the chickens, milk the two cows, and curse the sun. Verna won’t let me walk with her. She’s a senior and

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.
Kenyon Review logo
Ted Mathys is the author of several poetry collections including, most recently, Gold Cure (Coffee House Press, 2020). An NEA fellow, his work has appeared in Boston Review, BOMB, Conjunctions, PBS NewsHour, and elsewhere. He lives in Saint Louis and teaches at Saint Louis University.

Read More

All the Oranges of Tripoli

By Ruth Awad

2021 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest Winner Rattlesnakes took over the prairie dog town. Papa hands out the guns. Silo gets a Winchester rifle because he’s crazy. Verna gets one […]

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.