The Republic of Texas
I woke up that first morning contemplating my next move in this new place. I didn’t know anything about the area. Was there a trading post, other settlers? If there were others, they would most likely be along the river, probably further southwest. It was an uncertain time in the territory. The both of us traveling a distance on one horse was risky but we had no choice. We needed tools, basic supplies, a mule and a wagon. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 10
A New Leaf
I left Tennessee toward the middle of February, halfway thinking about following my old friend Crockett to Texas to see what was happening there. The Colonel had lost his appetite for Washington politics, according to a man who came into the shop one day saying he had read about it in a copy of the Alabama Watchman. I suspect Davy simply tired of having his honor trampled by the likes of Andrew Jackson, and opted for more worthy pursuits. For whatever reason, most likely adventure, he went to Texas. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 9
Upon my return, I noticed something peculiar in CB’s behavior. He seemed preoccupied, on edge, not at all himself. At first I thought it had to do with me personally, something I had done, or said. It nagged at me that he could be holding me accountable for the death of Louis, finding himself somehow caught in the middle, between the Friedel loss and my part in it. He had become close with the Friedel family, visiting their farm often, tending a full blown romance with Isabel. Or, I surmised, perhaps he was simply ill at ease with me, not knowing how to address my loss. He had expected me to return with my wife and baby, my family. It could be that my bereavement was more than he was sophisticated enough to process, not as acclimated in the white man’s ways as I had thought. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 8
Sitting on the old front porch swing, Julianne waits for the arrival of the unfamiliar, for the seventy-year-old-woman who gave her life. Gently pushing the toes of her left foot against the floor in rhythm with the suspended motion, Julianne is struck with the profound comfort of her own immobility. In the midst of the constant procession of life, I wait here, she thought. Had always waited, it seemed to her now, while her environment ripened around her, touching her, sustaining her, as the patterns of living changed routinely, yet predictably, through the years. Continue reading The Family
On The Mississippi
“CB, I’m gonna build me an ark. You ever seen an ark?”
I picked up a stick, and smoothed away a writing surface on the ground, sketching out the plans for the boat I had in my mind to build. It would be a hundred feet long and twenty-five feet wide, vee-shaped at the ends, but with a cabin in the center like those along the river on the common flatboats. There was plenty of redwood with which I planned to build the boat, but for the house portion, I would use poplar. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 5
Crockett rode up one morning wanting to know if I’d be interested in doing some exploring, a little surveying in the territory northwest, almost halfway to the Mississippi, and thought I might want to look around there, perhaps laying claim to a homestead for myself. I had been splitting logs close to the boat’s mooring when he rode up behind me. Everyone else was over at the Wilkes place. I was glad it had worked out that way. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 4
We got married on June 30, 1820, on a Friday evening at the Wilkes’ house. The preacher came down from Pitts Burg Landing to perform the ceremony. He was a Baptist, quite young, a red-faced Scotch-Irish fellow, another Wilkes’ relative. Danny was not a religious man, as far as I knew. The subject never came up. I had been baptized at Christ’s Church in Montreal, but had never taken to the church life myself, having found it to be an inconvenience, as had my parents. Mana and her family, on the other hand, were Baptists. Mrs. Wilkes belonged to The Primitive Baptist Church, but Mana must have taken after her father in that respect, for Homer rarely attended services. Mrs. Wilkes spent a lot of time excusing their absences. Continue reading Choices: Chapter 3
Way back there in birthing bed
alone again she’d weep.
Year after year, new flesh, new bone,
pushed out like temporal teeth.
Ripped from its sockets by the roots,
life gasped and screamed for air,
then quieted down in perfect peace
to rich maternal fare.
Grandmother soil, warm and fertile,
the perfect garden spot.
She was Eve in efflorescence:
Black-eyed Susans, Blazing Stars,
Snow-drops, Spring Beauties,
Ragweed and Clover.
She was Eden, perennially pregnant.
Wildflowers, we speckle the landscape,
earth’s laughter, we nourish and flavor the land.
Spawned one by one in darkened rooms,
loosed as fledglings from cradling hands:
we explore, we discover,
we dance, we sing,
Last night the dogwood bloomed,
splattering white all over the woods.
What magic transpired while I soundly slept,
to lighten their previous mood?
Give me the wine that frees the mind,
the nectar sipped by Eve.
Just let me taste one sparkling drop
to counteract this sleep.
Let Inspiration’s sweetest juice
remove this misty veil,
so I can see the mystery
Eden could not conceal.
Once, a poetic woman
found the heartbeat of God
beneath a blade of grass.
She simply pulled the leaves apart
and felt the ancient pulse.
When she pressed her palm against the living earth,
and felt the power pounding,
she surely was compelled
To lay her body down.
Breast to breast,
heart to heart,