It wasn’t because Wyoming had so few women and therefore August had limited options for companionship. It wasn’t because I affirmed married women’s right to keep their own wages or hold property in their own names. Neither of us had property or much money. He and I worked together at Two-Bar ranch, both of us riding horses, mending fences, rounding up sheep, caring for ailing ones, milking. I married him because I’d met a man who wanted me to be myself, a woman who loved horses, ranching, and working outdoors. Moving stock, hauling hay, riding, this was the life I knew, and I never wanted to be done with it. August saw how I worked hard, knew I could be a partner, and didn’t for an instant believe women had weak bodies. It didn’t matter he was ten years older or short and just as poor as me. “My legs reached the ground just like any other man’s,” he said. I knew that was good ground to stand on. August chose me as I chose him, but I acknowledge Mrs. Morse, the terror of “rouges,” and Mrs. Post who had no need to defer to her husband’s opinion and rose above definitions others had for her. I recognize Mrs. Jenkins who didn’t give a single ounce of weight to the idea that women who birthed children couldn’t carry out laws they voted for. I never met any of these women. Each were before my time, but each helped make it possible for a man to marry a woman, not the idea of who she should be.
Anna Citrino taught abroad in Turkey, Kuwait, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, India, and the UK. She is the author of A Space Between (Bordighera Press) and two chapbooks, Saudade, (Finishing Line Press) and To Find a River, (Dancing Girl Press.) Her second book, Buoyant, is forthcoming (Bellowing Ark Press.) You can find her most days in her garden or walking or bicycling along California’s Central Coast. Read more of Anna’s writing at annacitrino.com.