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  • Writer's pictureScale Lily


I know you live here; I see your strange marks in the clay

The place where you lay down is evident to me

And as the deer panteth for the water

So this stream is good to see

They call me city and England here, some say California

But my feet have not left prints in either of those places

These mountain forests, they sing to me

So for days I wander here, forsaking human faces

I saw the pictures and heard the stories of days that have long past

Large herds of deer and hidden lakes with fish on every cast

The sound of it appealed to me, that this is how they found their meat

But for now I am an alien with untrained eyes and feet

They read these woods just like a book, yet all seems Greek to me

I’m still not sure just where to look, so I sit here in this tree

Days go by and still no deer, I could ask but that I dread

My pride has earned me nothing here, but another day unfed

So humbled hands knock at the door of the mountain man called Morris

He laughs at me, but still I ask, “Please tech me about the forest”

It’s a language that he speaks so well, of ridges, rubs and scrapes

Persimmon trees, acorn nuts and over there some wild grapes

Not long after that I missed one with the bow

But persistence and an empty plate led me to a doe

Then a buck I shot at longer range, but for me his trail ran cold

Pride had not got me thus far, and so I ran and told

The mountain man picked up the blood, each and every speck

Through laurel thickets, on our knees and with bended necks

“There lies your buck”, he finally said, as I focused untrained eyes

“He tried to jump the creek down there, but those branches held your prize”

-- Calvin T. Yerke

I had a romantic sort of view of what I thought would be mountain life as a boy. My grandmother took us there every year on vacation, and the smell of the woods, the moss, the idea of not knowing what might be over the next ridge, what lay in that next holler over, that always appealed to me.

Pete and I would follow creeks for miles, catch Rainbow trout and the occasional Brown, or the native specks. Fishing seemed a no brainer for us because we had done that all our lives in Florida. In ways it was easier in the mountains, not physically, because the terrain was far more demanding, but the places to cast seemed more obvious. It was a language that we could already speak, even if not perfectly, but still enough to catch fish. Hunting was a different story, and though we had hunted doves, squirrels and rabbits, deer were much more respectable opponents.

I remember a buck I followed two years in a row, I even had a picture of him in velvet, and during bow season I fell out of a tree trying to make a stupid and anxious shot at him. He became an obsession to me after I had a freezer and a half full of venison. I never understood trophy hunters till then, before that it was only about the meat, but this was personal. It became a way to test myself, to stick after something, pass up on other opportunities in order to get this one particular buck. I never got him, but I respected the mountains all the more, and the people who knew it as their first language. I don’t get to hunt anymore, but when we found these old pictures it brought back a lot of memories. I did many a stupid thing when I lived up there, but hunting was not one of them. I often miss the smell of those woods, the pristine solitude of a place not yet spoiled.


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