Whatever the Wind Delivers “Used”

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By: Walt McDonald

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Who more than the Southwesterners who’ve boldly claimed their home under the same tornado skies could have more cause to celebrate the millennium? And a celebration is exactly what Neugebauer and McDonald have forged in the historic photographs and poems they’ve paired to tell the story of the settlement and so much more. Eighty-three photographs from Texas Tech University’s Southwest Collection’s bounty of more than 500,000 reflect needs basic to all humankind: food, clothing, shelter, government, recreation, and spirituality. McDonald’s new and selected poems connect to the moments in time that the photographs preserve, but evoke stories that focus on the scope and quality of life both then and in the century since ranching and farming came to the region. “By yoking together those people separated by decades,” the authors say, “we hoped to show more harmony than contrasts between generations, between bold pioneers and their blessed inheritors―at risk, but singing on the same wide plains, under the same tornado skies, the same vast thousand miles of stars.” This millennial masterpiece is actually a prequel to their earlier collaboration All That Matters: The Texas Plains in Photographs and Poems and the culmination of a vision the authors say they’ve shared for almost a decade. The Price They Paid for Range Bone white caliche undercuts our dust. Most trees dry up, stunted on starving roots. To save imported stumps, we ditch the fields with peat imported from swamps, tamp bone meal into dirt for roses. Cactus rode here as burrs with soldiers, their Spanish ponies stumbling under the sun, dumping knobs of seeds from weed fields miles away. Wind taught our fathers how to survive so far from forests: build low and far apart and ration water. Let stallions and cattle be enough, rough bunks and windmills the way to pray, cow chips for fire, cactus and rattlers the price they paid for range and a thousand miles of stars.

 

Book Condition: Very Good