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I. The Settlement Hickory bark bluffs at the blend of two rivers. Gasconade waters buttered with the muddy Missouri. A lookout of miles kept in dawn’s trees by Afterbirth Boy in search for the Double-faced man ** and his ships. He walked the deer tracks, the silent banks in whispering wisps of limbs and etched his hunting fishing fires in abrasive limestone. And when he ascended skyward *** appearing as a star, his careful pots and arrowheads remained for field trips. II. Sailor’s Grave Long gusts rustled and turned the leaves. A riverboat anchored offshore. Men shouldered the knotted box scaling rutted woodland slopes, disrupting the Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn. At the top of hill the hole was ready. A prayer by the captain. Words for dark earth’s reception as River Princess, her screaming steam whistle echo bouncing limestone bluffs, haunted the breeze for miles. The same limestone carved for a marker, placed out of deference to a memory, out of fear of powers unseen. Forrest of passing Took possession of the passed away. The tombstone of faded relief proved unmovable in one terrible night’s torrent. But dead oak felled by by lightning’s lethal strike landed to tilt the stone. Lodged insensate against the headstone, hulking oak leaned there as a fixture. III. German Family Herr Doctor at the coming of age for his wooded six hundred homestead. Modest burgs already spotted forest river views. Herr Doctor named his land for a castle tower, a sycamore fortress overlooking rivers confluence. On free hills he constructed cabins, dwellings for possum, skunk and fishermen. Rust colored and crawling with ivy. Where mice ate his attic American history books, written in German, crumbling in trunks. Where Victrolas collected the powder of neglect. Where kerosene kitchens offered pensive light in black ink evenings. Dying like a Jefferson, he was buried on his land in a family plot along the common path. Overgrown behind a low rusty fence, he turned to dust with quiet kin, quiet earth and quiet hills. His daughters in rockers remained, resting the acres in Unitarian chapel hands. IV. Urban Study The memories, roaming the hide-away cliffs in replowed childhood. Churchgoers flocked hungry with their eyes and stomachs. They swung mad ropes from a bridge of silver rivets over a rushing river. They leaped to rapid deeps from the highest girders. As the poltergeists driving daily trains, their thunder pounded each tie along the bluffs: They came teenage or familied, affluent or transient, new morality or pagan, Retreating in humid breeze or flood plain mosquitoes, a mud-land of tree stumps, the lace of Queen Ann, and the celestial fireflies of wild night. Carnal diets were spread here in sleeping bags, and shaded guitar intonations with subdued voices they drifted away with the campfires. Children sprouted everywhere like saplings moving out of this sanctuary to adulthood, Then they scattered across the Earth, extending their paths, until they ascended skyward. • Bergfried is a German word referring to a free standing castle tower. It is the name that was given to a 600 acre plot of wooded land in state of Missouri at the confluence of the Gasconade and Missouri Rivers. The first owner was a German immigrant and a doctor. Many Germans immigrants settled in this part of Missouri. At one high point on the hilly land, one could look out on the conjoining of the two rivers and this may have been the reason the original owner gave his land this name. Also at this high point on the land there was a sailor’s grave. The large headstone was right at the edge of the bluff looking down on the rivers and an oak tree had fallen on top of the stone, tilting it to the side. The dead tree was too heavy to lift and continued to rest on top of the stone. After the owner died, the property was managed by two daughters, but they soon became too old to manage the property, so they donated it to the Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood Mo. ** The Afterbirth Boy and the Double-Faced Man are characters from Native American (Plains Indian) folklore. The first people to appear on this land were Plains Indians. The Afterbirth Boy is usually portrayed as a heroic monster slayer and the Double-faced Man is generally portrayed as a monstrous human with two faces, one on the front and the other on the back of his head. *** In Native American folklore characters often drifted into the sky to become stars. Both the Afterbirth Boy and the Double-Faced Man drifted into the sky to become stars, according to legend.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2020

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