As I am not from the South,
attempting to speak in mountain
dialogue can be viewed as insulting
or 'poking fun'. So when I thought to
write a piece in this venacular,
I sought help from some "ol'timers".
This piece was the focus.
I make staffs and canes for people
as a hobby/calling, and was given a partially
completed one with a history. I sensed
a need for it by a young man in Washington State,
finished it and sent it too him.
While it was in transit I sent him this
poem in four sections, just in preparation.
By this Staff
I'd be a wantin' to tell ya 'bout this here staff.
Jes' now finishin' up with the oil 'n rubbin' down,
not tryin' to hurry or nuthin' -- but getting' on time.
My part wasn't much to tell on, no exaggeration --
fact is, what I dun whittled ain't the best part a’tall.
Don't have the soft patience ‘ner the eye neither --
not like them others what started it and loved it.
It's name is Maarishone, I be reckenen' by Shea --
kinda made up like, from the magical names of
these two ladies see -- and me bein' just me,
and them all gone and needed 'memerin' still.
What ya got here son, is legacy and dreamstuff;
and don't ferget the granddad done found it first,
back about -- well nere yer dad was born I rekkin.
I'll tell how it was told ta me, cleaned up a bit for tellin’.
Findin' this here stick was an accident, but special --
leastwise helped old Zeb offin the ridge that night,
broke leg and the wolf-wind gnawin' and rain mean.
Didn't help none he was a comin' back from the still,
or that’d been my guessin' from knowin' the fam'lies and all --
not matterin' much as they was mountain born and true.
'portant thing is, that he kept it 'round for years -- just raw.
You know, didn't let the natural call outin' the skin or nuthin’,
an' a wonder it didn't get busted up some for fire startin'.
Too big for whuppin' and too long fer stirrin' boilin' shirts.
'sides it was strangle wood and had a mind of its own --
winnin' out over that twistin' vine by claiming it and bondin’,
like maybe two blood brothers Cherokee style as one.
Well, his shack burnt up and him be in it -- don't know why,
but this stick was found sittin' on a tree bench by itself,
like he was fixin' to work on it some but was fergittin'.
His daughter spake of his askin' 'bout her broken broom
and thought fersure it woulda made a right nice handle,
and they give it to her cause a that, and cause he liked it.
Fer some folk simple things mean a lot -- and that's all right!
She started carvin' on it that winter -- snow pretty deep an' all,
and laughed 'bout lettin' the root-serpent out part way,
and whittled careful, to just remove the bark a fair bit
‘n after that, the twistin' spin kinda jumpt out ta yer eye,
what with the skin that purple gray and the inside cream
and the bark edge reddish like rust or soakin' blood
though theyen be kin to any blade and not likely slip.
Anyways, she started it and set it to be a walkin' staff,
but n'er got to use it fer dyin' of the croup that way,
and it only done enough for plan to trace and follow.
Set about for a spell, I guess -- leastwise nuthin' said,
'till her granddaughter started playin' it up again
and talking' fairie talk and likin' old stories and such,
and sayin' how the ole dead man told her what to do.
She worked it sure careful -- slow and tender like,
and hear tell she used real sand and rough deer hide
and a broken piece of file from the mill -- and her teeth!
Yup -- I ain't a sayin' it be true, but I then again might be,
fer I had to work down some strange marks 'round the top
and never could get no tool to fit in just right and quick,
so my finishin' ain't quite as good as her middle fixin'.
You might be wonderin' why it fell to me -- I always did.
Guess she knew somehow it’d never be finished by her,
and knew I had a way of just doin' things 'stead of talkin',
and 'cause she caught me 'neath the moon that Solstice past
with that other staff and the old ritual I did and chanted
real purdy she said and sumthin’ 'bout it followin' through
and that I should be the one who decided when and who.
My pa made me memerize it just right ….
to this ritual of paced enchantment.
Smile Mistress of the Night
as this new staff walks a league in silence.
Embrace Mother Earth
as power draws up from nature's pulse.
Absorb the Father,
last lingering warmth of yesteryear.
Behold the ever wand
of the squire of the approaching dawn.
Strength of arm, peace of spirit,
depth of soul;
by bond conduct the song of everbe."
He said it was keltish or somethin' -- from way back.
No matter -- people just bring me staffs and I do it.
I wouldn't 'cept for this tingle-burnin' I get inside,
and the special glow in people eyes when they pass by
with one of these ol' sticks in hand and heart 'n all,
and never have to say a word but fer to smile-sing.
You ought to know that a man n'er walks with a staff alone;
meanin' made by his own hand or bought or maybe stole,
'er else that invoke thing kinda works out back-ass-erds
and ya fall inta a well or earthquake crack or rabbit hole,
and if yer lucky the staff saves ya and you gift it quick away
afore even your cousins shout and run away for fearin' --
best just get one give to ya by reason never asked ‘ner begged.
So, it was n'er meant fer me, 'ceptin to carry on the line of hands
what cut and knicked and rubbed and let the spirit out.
You figger out what them tiny hands are for you see there,
but never tell a single folk but jest walk, aknowin' and straight.
'cause the real staff is a-goin't' be inside of you, my friend –
and this be just a way of shoutin' silent to those aware
that crones and wizards done brought this home to thee.