Arbuckle Rift

by Nancy Mauro

Imaginary Oklahoma is an ongoing project in which some of today’s most important and influential writers combine with artists to provide a fictional take on this place we call home. Through a wide variety of voices, styles and literary devices, these works prove that “Oklahoma” is much more than a place, it’s an idea.

In Ponca City, the left tendon, being the more rational, was ready to turn back for Roanoke. It hadn’t wanted to stray in the first place, but out of a long-standing loyalty, it conceded to the right tendon’s request to continue south.
Omar couldn’t name this restlessness. His letters to Roanoke gave wide berth to the issue of his absence and focused instead on the mare he’d chosen. How she could read the delicate contractions and buffeted strikes of his calf muscles was beyond Omar; he’d barely ridden before. He gave little thought to the allograph transplant he’d undergone as a young boy—two Achilles tendons taken from a cadaver to replace his damaged set. The donor had also been a young boy, a descendant of the Chickasaw Indian Nation struck dead by a train.
When Omar reached Robber’s Roost in the Arbuckle Mountains the tendons took in vistas of trembling prairie grass, grazing bison and the Rock Creek corridor winding its way south through the Platt. “I’m delighted,”the right tendon said.“After so many concessions, Indian Territory.”
“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” the left tendon grumbled. “I say we go back.”
“It appears we’re at a crossroads,” the right said frostily.
Omar stood then, stretched his legs. It was beautiful country. The horse waited in a patch of scouring rush, turning its jaw like a delicate rock tumbler.
“Let Omar decide,”the left suggested.
“It’s his life,” the right acceded. “Although this land’s the very last of us.”
But Omar’s gaze had already risen above the Platt, ventured south beyond the Lake of the Arbuckles, alighted on what he imagined were the forks and spools of the river that kept him from Texas.