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Soul Stance River - 29

The Nez Perce Indians who lead lean lives on these knolls and river brooks
have a style of soul that sneaks into the songs of the sun
and plays on the prayers in the patience of their dreams,
they have welcomed us as messengers of revival,
like the Shoshone they are underarmed and underestimated
eager for an epoch of new earnings for their children,
their chief, Twisted Hair is being very cooperative
having his women feeding us with copious amounts of dried salmon and roots
however, this diet, combined with our malnourished bodies
has induced dysentery and food poisoning symptoms, 
there is a suspicion that this is a strategem of the Indians to weaken us
so to facilitate the capture of the wealth that our supplies represent, 
the cooking equipment,  tools, rifles and coloful trinkets,

For two weeks most of us have been sick as dirt fed dogs
emaciated and irrate with boredom while Clark and few others
have managed to remain relatively healthy
burning out ponderosa pines to hollow out for the canoes we'll use on the swift Columbia,
the Nez have taught us this method
and they have told us that the headwaters of that river is only five days away,
we were also informed that the tribe was initially contemplating killing us
but that an Indian woman named Watkuweis
whom had been abducted by Blackfeet raiders six years ago
sold into bondage to Canadian trappers, and escaped them,
finding her way back to her People, the Nez Perce recently
intervened on our behalf
telling Twisted Hair and his conspirators
that they should be kind and forward thinking,
" These are the people who helped me...Do them no hurt..."
meaning that the Whites she lived with were compassionate
and did her no real harm,
afterall, we are the first White Men that these Indians ever saw,

Waterborne again, at last, Hallayuela,
we're goin downhill for the first time since St. Louis and it feels damn good n' fast too,
rushin through the whitewater cascades
has got us bumpin and flyin like rascal crows in a heavy wind,
the canoe I'm in came into a curve 
that smacked us broadside into a cliff face that puts the pulse in nerves
water boiling up wild and high slapping our heads with the derision of drunk damsels,
crashing down into a 10 foot drop between sandstone skyscrapers of 3, 000 feet
that usher us urgently yet gently into a river
whose water is so clear that you'd think its possible to float on whispers,
Natives from the Wallawallas and Yakima tribes watch us like anxious squirrels
they think we're nuts, and would love to salvage the wreckage of our mission,
our faithful Shoshone guide, "Old Toby" , who saw us through those wicked Bitterroots
began looking at us as though we are the spawn of Satan
and fled from us this morning without even being paid,
I wonder how this trip will change his opinion of Americans,


Copyright © | Year Posted 2015

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Date: 12/31/2015 3:25:00 AM
Great section with sweet Watkuweis to support them. Its nice they caught a break downhill..must have felt so so good...this make me smile..c: Always, Laura
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Justin Bordner
Date: 1/6/2016 12:58:00 AM
Continued...The intervention of Watkuweis is well documented, and her compassion and courage deserves to be addressed in this epic. Its a great anecdote of how mercy repays mercy in human interactions Laura. This portion of the work also has some neat humor which felt great while writing, and as I learned during this creative process was vital to the spirit of the story...J.A.B.
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Justin Bordner
Date: 1/6/2016 12:45:00 AM
I love making you smile Poetess...describing the whitewater rapids was a real treat for me because I have a passion for kayaking and canoeing which I enjoyed much as a youth, rivers and rapids have so much to teach the soul, and excites the mind and body as does love Laura...J.A.B.