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84 the minnesota review Christy Sheffield Sanford Black Hawk ("My" Antonia) Antonia is ushered into a room with cherubs on the ceiling and pictures of Jesus all about. Madame Theresa, the fortune teller, asks her to sit. Through a curtained door, Antonia watches a boy about twelve with a row ofmelons on an oilcloth-covered table. He brandishes a butcher knife and slits the first fruit with a dull thud. Madame Theresa says, amid slurping sounds, that Antonia will cause the death of someone close to her and wiU spend many years in an asylum. "But," she adds smiling, "You wUl Uve to be very old." Antonia, her voice husky with breath vibrating underneath, asks, "What must I do?" "Come every week. I can help you." "But I have no money," Antonia says. "I will Ught a candle for you tonight, but next week you must bring a donation." As she leaves, Antonia sees the melon table swimming with juice and seeds. What I knew at first: Black Hawk: bacon Indians my grandmother frying deUcious fat. What I know now: bacon: good, dangerous. Black Hawk: an American Indian Chief captured buried tomahawk talked to President Jackson honorable saw balloon ascent in NYC given topaz earrings vain humiliated wore coat, pants and vest 1767-1838. Black Hawk: town in My Antonia. Antonia decides the woman is evil. Her sister laughs at her, says "Everyone knows Theresa's a liar." Still a cloud hangs over Antonia. After aU, friends, even acquaintances, teU her their troubles. In recent weeks, three people have threatened her with suicide. She stops seeing a romantic sailor who looks like a picture book She was fascinated each time he showed her his tattoos. On his right arm was a ship and a strawberry girl and on his left the girl waited at the gate for her sweetheart andfarther up his arm the man was kissing the girl. He called it, "The Sailor's Return. " He never refused Antonia anything. He'd have given her his tattoos 85 ifshe'daskedfor them. Antonia couldn't explain she Uked him too much to date him. What I knew before: WiUa Cather: woman writer lesbian admired by Truman Capote. What I know now: WiUa Cather: Pulitzer Prize winner gift for imagery editor of McClure's liked loud colors and exotic beads born in Virginia lived with and loved Edith Lewis earthy human resided in the VUlage and then on Park Avenue prolific wrote a modern novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop 1873-1947. Several months pass; Antonia is draping folds of satin on a wire figure when the new boarder, Ken, a cowboy, walks into the dining room. "Mind if I lay my rodeo gear on this table for a minute?" He spreads out his leather chaps, silver spurs and the boots with tops stitched with roses, true-lover's knots and unclothed females. Antonia continues to work. "These are my angels," Ken says, pointing at the nudes. Antonia blushes, her cheeks become dark red plums. "Can I take you to the dance Friday?" he asks. He thinks city girl's bodies don't move inside their clothes the way Antonia's does. Most girl's muscles ask one thing: Do Not Disturb. Antonia's brown arms and legs call to him to come running across the velvety red Bokhara carpet. "I thought you were dating Lena," she says. "Not any more." AU I knew before: Nebraska: corn huskers footbaU mid-western state flat. Now: Nebraska: Indian for shallow water not flat but wavy prairie grasses—buffalo, grama, dropseed, side oats, foxtail and marijuana flowers—goldenrod, milkweed, wild roses Cather's Antonia based on Annie Sadilek Pavelka whose father committed suicide and is buried in Red Cloud statehood, 1867. The next day, Antonia's thinking of Ken as she stares out the window at the redprairie grass—the color ofwine-stains or certain seaweed when first washed ashore. There's so much motion, the country seems to be running. A strand of sunflowers, making a gold ribbon, parts as Mary breaks through. She bounds inside, hides under Antonia's feather bed. Lena pounds on the door, Antonia opens it. Lena, knife in...


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