Drewyer will return to Massac,
to join at the offered rate
as talker and hunter. A good load,
like a wagon he carries the freight.
We might get hungry for awhile
as most of this Christmas meat
has been the brain of his long rifle
with which no other can compete.
Around the fires aglow at mess
each man has ample, plus some.
Bellies are full, the night clear,
and all the stragglers are home.
At wilding fires we collect
Indians and French among
our Party to celebrate the feast
with drum and fife and song.
In Delaware and Canadian,
in Kickapoo and bottled cork,
a lyrical tune, a sounding horn,
a whistle and a flute, with York
a slave, and other fancy ankles
as everyone starts crowding in
toward turkeys turning on spits
with sticks of sizzling venison.
We drink each proffered gill
with pleasure warming our feet,
the Captain remaining in shadow,
his hut and chimney complete.
Every softened hide is claimed
for clothing and high moccasins.
Even feathers are divvied up
for bunks now stuffed with padding.
Our quickened spirits flash in fun,
a tambourine of stretched rabbit
is struck and thumped as if unhinged
to fend Old Hermit Winter out.
With fiddles, song, and laughter,
forgetting all thoughts of sorrow
we feast into the offered dark
and stay awhile for tomorrow.
* History-based verse from The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Vol. 2,
“Wintering at Camp Dubois.” Moulton, Gary E., editor. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1986: 141.
Mark B. Hamilton is an environmental neo-structuralist, working in forms to transform content, adapting from both Eastern and Western traditions. He earned the MFA at The University of Montana, and has become a scholar of Early American History with special interest in the Lewis and Clark era, as a prelude to the Industrial Age. His new eco-poetry volume, OYO, The Beautiful River (Shanti Arts, 2020), explores the reciprocity between self, culture, history, and the contemporary environment of the polluted Ohio River. Recent work has appeared in: The Lyric Magazine, About Place Journal, Plainsongs, and History Magazine, as well as abroad in Amethyst Review, and Stand Magazine, UK. http://www.MarkBHamilton.WordPress.com