A Land of Broken Promises

The setting sun ends another West Texas day. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford
The setting sun ends another West Texas day. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

THE LAND had broken him.

It lured him West.

But that was a long time ago.

He was young.

He was blessed.

He was full of hope.

The land was full of promise.

And nothing stood in his way.

He stood morning after morning, year after year, and admired her beauty.

It was a good feeling.

He would never be alone again.


And the land.

They belonged together.

Nothing would ever be able to separate them.

They grew older together.

They prospered.

They didn’t have it all.

But they had all they needed.

Sun to warm the land.

Rain to wash the drought away.

Wind to turn the blades and draw the water from deep in the ground.

He loved the land.

The land defied him.

Times were hard.

Times were troubling.

They shook his faith from time to time.

They had not chased him away.

The land touched his heart.

Each sunrise told him he was one day closer to the promise than he had ever been before.

He held the land tight.

The land was eternal.

It would never leave him.

That’s what he told himself.

It was a lie.

Then the land broke him.

The sun came and stayed.

The rains went elsewhere.

There was no wind to turn the blades.

The water had dried up deep in the ground.

He was alone.

The land left him.

He sat in the silence and remembered the face of the land.

So young.

So soft.

Green eyes.

They were always laughing.

The laughter stopped.

Auburn hair.

It ruffled in the winds until the winds died.

It turned gray.

His life had turned ashen.

He knew the truth.

He hated the truth.

The land had not left him.

She had.

He watched the sun leave its final shadows beneath the windmill.

He was alone.

She was gone.

It was easier to blame the land.

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