markwildyr.com, Post #62
|Artist: Maria Fanning|
This must be nostalgia month for me. My last post was about Johnny Two-Guns, this one is a further look at Cut Hand. Note that in the title of this piece, I labeled it a historical novel. Some look at the book as a gay love story. To me, it is history as lived by two men who happen to be in love. Think about it. There’s a difference between the two approaches. Perhaps you’ll tell me what the book means to you.
The following takes place in Chapter 14 as Billy Strobaw returns to Teacher's Mead following a winter in Yawktown among the whites after he's lived for several years among the Indians. It is worth noting that Billy had labored endlessly to educate receptive members of the band, and Cut Hand had been his star pupil. We pick up the tale as Billy enters the stone house at Teacher’s Mead to find a note pinned with a knife to the inside of the door.
A Strobaw Family Saga
Beloved. When I discovered your desertion, I was angry beyond all reason, and Morning Mist despaired of my sanity. Then I remembered my pledge that you were free to return to your people although you would rip my heart from my breast and take it with you. That you have done.
If you are reading this, then welcome home! You have returned, and perhaps my heart can be restored to its proper place, and a friendship bound by love and respect can be revived and strengthened. Know this—Cut Hand loves you always, William Joseph Strobaw. Even so, I recognize the strength of your reasoning and accept that we are divorced. Knowing I can never cover you again is hurtful, but if that is the case, I will endure. We will endure. Love, Cut.
I dropped my head to my arms on the planking of the table. How did I ever believe I could leave him? Whether or not there was a physical relationship, the object of my devotion was here, and here I belonged.
I reread the letter, noting with pride the beauty of his composition. While most of the people in Yawktown could neither read nor write, this wild son of the plains penned a hand the envy of Moorehouse College. Upon examination, the writing seemed somewhat fresh, leading me to hope the People were back from winter quarters.
This was affirmed when Otter sauntered through the door as though I had never left. He delivered the sad news of Yellow Puma’s passing during the winter, followed quickly by the death of the misco’s old friend, Spotted Hawk. Badger now served as shaman. The fate of the band was in the hands of a new generation of leaders.
My young friend also brought the welcome news that Buffalo Shoulder’s shunning had been lifted, even though he still indulged alcohol more than was seemly. Otter laced the sour amongst the sweet. Cut Hand was now a proud father. Morning Mist laid a great belly and delivered a boy-child named Dog Fox. Damnation! Cut’s seed was powerful! He must have lined her on his first covering.
Otter was coming fifteen now and looked the part. Gone was the baby fat from his lean frame. Fully as tall as I, his shoulders flared over ribs muscled with sinew and gristle. The light, genderless voice had broken, taking on an adolescent timbre. In actions, however, he was the old Otter, well named because of his playful ways and sudden bursts of energy. He spent the night with me, bedding down in the east side of the house while I crawled into what once was my marriage bed and the scene of countless beautiful couplings.
Lone Eagle showed up the next day, and the change in him was startling. Just shy of eighteen, he looked to be two years older. His deep, vibrato voice and self-conscious swagger announced to the world “here walks a man.” Arrogance rode his shoulders more comfortably now, mellowed by confidence, smoothed of the brash, uncertain edges. He, too, acted as if there had been no interlude since our last meeting. They both spent the night.
Cut Hand, Bear Paw, and Buffalo Shoulder appeared the next morning. All my jealousies fell away at the sight of Cut Hand’s magnificent bearing and physical beauty. Our handshake was long and endearing. Finally he stepped away and allowed the others to greet me with much pounding of backs and sly ribbings.
Cut and I sat alone at the kitchen table before the fire while the others inspected my new rifles. He told me of Yellow Puma’s last days and how his father spoke of me with affection. Toward the end, the ailing man complimented his son on his wisdom in selecting Teacher as his first mate. Then we both sat without words, working through fresh sorrow for the loss of a father and a friend.
As I’ve said before, Cut Hand was with me many years before he became a book. At various times in my youth, he was a Mohawk, a Mohican, a Comanche… but eventually, he became his true self… a Yanube, a mythical band related to the Sioux.
Please take a look at the novel. If you’ve already read it, please post a review on Amazon. I really would like DSP Publications to bring out River Otter and Echoes of the Flute and Medicine Hair, as well as the unpublished Wastelakapi… Beloved. But we have to generate some sales in order to get it done. Amazon permits you to read a short passage.
My contact information is provided below in case anyone wants to drop me a line:
Website and blog: markwildyr.com
The following are some buy links for CUT HAND:
And now my adopted mantra (I stole it from Don Travis, but he doesn’t mind): Keep on reading, keep on writing, and keep on submitting. You have something to say, so say it!
Until next time.
New posts at 6:00 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month.