Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mountain Stories

Hey, I hope you’re having a great day. I got up this morning and went birding with some friends. It was a good day, with some suspected birds and some surprises. We had wonderful views of a Blue Grosbeak. One of my friends and I wrote a little book on birding a few years ago, and the darn thing is a steady seller. It just goes to show you that if you have something you love, there just might be a book in it.

I’m in the coffee shop this morning. Couldn’t be this close to town and not have a fresh cranberry muffin and a cup of coffee. So, let me tell you what I was thinking about last night.

I’m concerned that you aren’t writing. So many of my friends are having trouble. Me included. With me it’s usually temporary, and happens when the trout are rising to the fly, and I feel the call of cold streams. I want to encourage you, and I hope you will do the same for me. We are the storytellers. I still believe that if we take away the computer, cell phone, and all the other “stuff” we carry on our belts and in our bags, we aren’t that far from the fire. We are at our best when we’re looking into the flames and telling those stories we’ve heard, while we add our own twist to the mix.

When I was a child I remember family gatherings, and after supper the kids played while the adults gathered around the stove and told the same stories that I’d heard for years. I’d sit on the steps and listen, and when I was older they were the fuel that fed the fires of my imagination.

Last night I was going through my poems that I might use for a reading, and came across the poem I’ll share with you today. There are a lot of stories in the mountains, and one of the special ones for me is the story of Jack-O-Lantern. It’s used to explain the lights that drift through the hills and hollows. Some say it is swamp gas, others say it is something else. In the southern mountains I’ve heard the story of a man who was so mean that when he died and went to hell, the devil gave him an ember and told him to go and start his own place, cause he wasn’t welcome. That’s him in the mountains at night, still looking.

In Kentucky we had another story about two lost men. I’ve always had the story in mind. Many years ago I went back to the place where I was born, and the house was gone, and as I stood there looking at the spring, and the hills where I played, this poem started to form. Maybe you have visited a special place and felt the same as I did on that day. If you have, get that paper out and see where it takes you.
Here’s the poem.


In the hollow there is a story.
A tale for children, of a man
whose friend was lost.
He took a lantern, went to find him.
Neither was ever seen again.

On crisp fall nights the light from the
lantern can still be seen
on the Kellen Hollow ridge,
down the slopes of Grave Yard Hill.

It is me.
It is me.

It is me out there scanning the dark,
one hand in front hoping for a warm touch,
the other raised to cast the golden light as far
as a fishing line into the darkness.

It is me looking frantically about while
the children down below are told the story.

It is me.
It is me.

Searching for the family that is no longer there.
Searching for the home that is no longer there.
Searching for the fire that has long since gone out.

It is me.

Robert W. Kimsey

1 comment:

  1. I like this poem. I feel like you are really talking to me when I read your blog. Just enough writing to intrigue me and a good poem every time.
    Good work, Robert. I'm a fan.