My mother, of Cherokee descent, was a great storyteller.  Although she didn’t employ the use of character voices, she instinctively knew when to go into head voice, chest voice or rumble from the diaphragm. She was an artist at knowing when to pause, rush, or look left then right.  Storytelling is becoming a lost art form.  Today, the purpose of a campfire is for making smores or burning stuff up so we don’t have to carry it out.  We don’t gather around it to tell tall tales, to remember our history, our culture or heritage.  Most of us don’t even realize that many of our greatest bible stories were passed down from generation to generation beside the warmth of a campfire.  Here is a “true” Adirondack story my mother told me which I turned into a poem. 

Tall Tale of a Shelter Seeker

With setting sun, the shadows claim
and black bats dart and tumble
the mountain campers seek the flame
lest specters claim the humble

With reckless breath the zephyr flings
the frisky spark up with the smoke
‘neath leafy arch, near flames that wink
legends are often spoke….

A wandering scout, off course was blown
as the lengthening shadows grew
he wandered round in woods unknown
aware that night ensued

A tempest crashed out her mighty chords
the scout, determined, remained staid
with the faithful compass trail, bereft
he sought for sheltering, vaulted cave

Wandering in the wildest most
impenetrable forest
where axe or saw had never rung
in tune with nature’s chorus

A crag sprung forth above a lair
whose shadowy claim held shelter
he lit a torch to enter there
to leave the untamed welter

He saw a gun against the wall
beneath some writing there
with illumined torch he read the scrawl
“Today I shot my very first bea…”

-Malcolm Kogut.Image


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