cropped-tapestry-quote1.jpgThe hero of my next story is Colman Harpe. I chose the name Colman for two reasons–first, he’s inspired by Jonah (the one swallowed by the whale) and both of the names–Jonah and Colman–mean “Dove.” The second reason is that I grew up knowing a fellow named Coleman Ware who was a local fur seller. Dad took him many a hide for a little extra cash and had quite a few Coleman stories in his repertoire.

I even wrote a poem about him.


His house, as knock-kneed as he,
holds to the hillside with claws
buried in the flesh of a mountain.

He kills for a living,
steel-jawed traps have tongues
quicker than the black snake
coiled beneath the shed
thriving on spilled guts.

He opens the bellies
of his liveliehodd
with a flicking blade
and a line of talk
that flows sinuous,
like blood.

He piles hides in a corner.
Case-skinned, hollow animals
lack only heads and feet;
lack only claws and teeth.

Wiping death from his knife
on a dirty pant leg,
he cuts into an apple.
Slicing chunks of fruit
against a steady thumb
he eats from the blade
as one who knows
how all our stories end.