Sunday, December 8, 2013

poemwrig5 Shingebiss

by Will Wright
(Adapted from the Ojibwa tale)


Short winter days on Great Lake Huron

The North Wind reigns as chief of all

Forcing Man and wolf and hare and deer on

To places sheltered from icy squall

To den and cave and warming hall

In his tent by the lakeside cozy

Lived the brown duck Shingebiss

When feathers ruffled or cheeks were rosy

He laid four logs on the fire to hiss

Four large logs for winter’s bliss

At dawn the duck would do his fishing

Braving cold and frost of hoar

And if for warmth his heart was wishing

He’d go home and set on floor

A merry fire with his large logs, four

The Wind Chief saw the one tent standing

Near where lakeside rushes grow

In appearance like a summer landing

With holes for fishing in a row

This duck, this Shingebiss must go!

He doesn’t shudder, he’s never wheezing

He refuses to the southlands fly

His fishing holes then, I’ll be freezing

So he’ll have no food nearby

Without fish, Shingebiss will die

Shingebiss told the North Wind Chief

You’re just a creature, much like me

Though you may cause much toil and grief

I will not fear you, so I’m free

Shingebiss cut new fishing holes, three

Each day the duck cut holes to fish

And dared the North Wind’s mighty howling

And caught as much as he might wish

To sustain and keep the bold young fowl

Lingering through the winter’s growling

This little duck, he does not fear me

I am the Chief, the North Wind cried

Yet he would fear if he were near me

So lifting flap, he came inside

To blow on Shingebiss till he died

The Wind Chief loosed an icy chill

That whispered thoughts both dire and dread

With malice cold enough to kill

But Shingebiss calmly turned his head

Though he could not see the wind, he said

I know who sets my tent a-blowing

You’re still a creature, much like me

With all your ice and wind and snowing

I will not fear you, so I’m free

He stirred the fire and let things be

The Chief blew harder, though not colder

Blowing feathers, fur and hair

It raised the fire from its smolder

The four logs burned with flame and flair

The duck smelled changes in the air

The Wind felt drops of water dripping

From his newly fevered brow

Silent tears from cold eyes tipping

That never felt a tear till now

How can I cry? I don’t know how

Don’t you see, you’ve stayed too long

Winter’s passing as you sit

Butterflies and birds of song

From budding branches fly and flit

With a feeble breeze, the North Wind quit

In dark December and months beyond

On Huron’s shores, brave ducks you see

With fishing holes in lakes and pond

Like their father Shingebiss they be

Never fearing, always free.

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