Saturday, June 18, 2016

Philip Garrison . . .

The Stories


A small rain
a thin cold rain

clicks on the shake roof &
on miles & miles of valley.

        They came to the pine forest hills:
        "What a wonderful tree!
        "Look, it has eyes & hair!
        "Look, here is a quiver and a bow"
        & he followed them home.

We sit by the living room woodstove
& tell stories, dry
& warm in the high dark
Columbia Plateau winter.

And step outside only
to throw in more wood
the rough bark, tight grain
clattering into flame.


The people'd been hungry weeks
& a mangy old bull wandered by:
"Ah, don't kill him.
"Rub his back with firewood."

Next day a few buffalo
walked right into the traps:
"For a little while we are saved.
"We have a little meat."

Those people were Blackfeet
400 miles east, over
the Columbia River cliffs
                                     --the plains

snowed-in tonight
the buffalo killed off
& people gone into cities.

That is the story
we were telling.


Back outside
no moon.
I pick up the kindling.
Hooves scrape nearby
through snow, on wide
stiff frozen grassland.

A shape lurches into the firelight.
A weight falls from my hands.
The fire turns & tosses.

--Philip Garrison

fr. Monks Pond No. 4, Winter 1968
in Monks Pond: Thomas Merton's Little Magazine
[Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1989]

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