Trista Hurley-Waxali just finished a stint living in LA for x years and is looking forward to her next adventure. She has performed at Avenue 50, Stories Bookstore, and internationally at O Bheal in Ireland and for Helsinki Poetry Connection. She writes weird short stories and is working on her novel, At This Juncture.


“Ritual Space in Nebraska”

My field isn’t improving, even after the fancy fertilizer and the engineered-to-spray irrigation. My books show this week to be the lowest crop yield, which means I have to do something quick before I have to worry. I have to find a solution that gives me a field of profit, rather than burden.

Should I try tilling the soil again?

Maybe add a solution within the irrigation system?

Or maybe it’s time to renew my place with the agriculture gods?

When I had privacy between the mountains in California it was easy to perform a ritual, but, here in Nebraska, it’s going to take a bit of research. Also, I can’t perform the same ceremony as I did with the oranges, since the corn requires an intimate bond. Each stalk is not as abundant and the rows are close together. So, I must find a space that can create a spiritual gateway to bring up the true essential nutrients.

Across the plains offer no privacy from the I-80 and between the rows are too cramped. Plus, it’s best to keep the rows free to receive the spiritual guidance and business only. Not like this isn’t business, but it is like how I use my barn, as there are too many hazards to find comfort. Maybe I should find a trench deep enough to set up a few candles; wait, that might backfire if there’s a sudden spark.

Any rooms available off the highway are quickly leased by major businesses. And it’s definitely not going to be easy to find a spot that’ll be open in high season. Plus I don’t want to be tempted to use the spot for, how the French say, a rendezvous, if my ritual requires a little arm candy. But then I risk her coming back with someone else and ruining the sacred ground.

I know Barry built a bunker between the crops in his acres deep from the highway. He said it didn’t take long, as most of the container spaces come prebuilt. But he did complain that there were last minute costs during the installation, which, at the moment, I can’t afford. Is this the only option I have left within these plains?

Well, there’s always John’s cabin by the lake. Since he’s died, I haven’t seen anyone out there and I doubt his family is fighting over that pine box. And I could revision the space by reading a cheesy book from the library, like a Danielle Steel romance or a Lee Child page-turner. Or maybe I should use the privacy to unroll a “Playboy”? But, where am I going to find one, as the convenience store had to soften up their inventory for the summer tourists? I know Carl will have a couple, since Marla left him last winter. But do I really want to borrow those glossy sheets?

Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a spot with decent ventilation to have enough airflow to smudge before the ceremony. A space that can also double as a place to then smoke a joint from the local dealer, something that calms me rather than making me paranoid over my soil’s lack of response to the irrigation. But really, I should keep fun and work separate and keep those high nights on my back porch.

What I need to do is find a place within the god’s vision and expand those kinds of grounds, a place that has abundance. The only place I can think of is by the back river bank between the acres that bring fish during the last hot week of the summer. The trout seem to follow the bugs and stay caught in my nets, providing dried fish for the first frost.

I should go there and thank the gods for their abundance and leave the nooks from passerbies for those who have something to hide. Because getting guidance from the gods isn’t something that happens in the dark, but rather in the light. As cliché as that sounds, I regret that it took this long for me to realize where my best farmers are coming from, either up above or from the I-80. Each soul is carrying both the calm and the chemicals that can be blended to rid the weeds and finally grow my corn. So what I’ll do is cook the first fish that I catch for the gods and also leave some tobacco at the base of the fire, to give them an offering as abundant as the waters that flow under the roots and up into the ears. For I am finally listening to what my plants need: water, nutrients and guidance on how to grow and stay on market shelves. This is what I needed to find- through my pursuit of privacy.