‘Scoouwa: The Captive’ by Douglas Thornton The Society April 16, 2015 Culture, Poetry 4 Comments Originally Featured in Woodland Poems Near a ridge where far recedes the frozen Forest into valleys wide, Scoouwa’s chin In despondence fell. Faint and overcome With brow perplexed, he searched the wood for crumb Of hickory-nut, or the fleeting track Of roaming herds, until his slumping back Could take no more. One knee upon the ground He placed, and fate discerned with breath profound; For pain at ease no longer spoke by still Expression what silent truth tried to kill With vain remorse; and often passed he look Of spite, or mimicked words, and even shook His head in quick reproach, where fell his eyes, In lost respect for his adoptive ties. ‘Remember,’ had said his brother-in-law, A man too weak to hunt, too pained to crawl, ‘You were once a white man, but through the years Have grown, and now like us have pierced your ears. Hunger has so long changed our appearance We look oddly at each other, and rants And distant mumblings waste our lonely fire, Which shame proves we are not what we admire. For to suffer amongst even beloved Will estrange our strongest reason, and loved Or unloved, seek release in dissension. I am old, nor move as well, my vision Wanes, but want suffers us no greater task Than promise makes; and ever should I ask Owaneeyo to bring me food, behind This crippled frame, stands lasting peace of mind.’ But as those words weighed upon Scoouwa’s thoughts The day drew on, and from various parts The wind arose, yielding what little will Was in his heart outspoken, yet tranquil: ‘At morn I rose, brother, as I was told, And first the ridge and in the meadows cold Bestowed my strength renewed to hunt all day, But my strength has waned, and I see no way That I may hunt, and keep hunting in vain— I shall die of hunger if I remain! I’m going home, going where my name Will recall the past that your tribesmen shame. I am not an Indian, nor am I A man to wait upon a faith too high When a better life may be lived. Beyond These trees, a four-day walk, I’ll find the bond Of a former brotherhood to give me Comfort— and they will tell me I am free. And I know, brother, without me you’ll die, But I’ve no strength to face the reason why I leave this place, and leave you to your fate: Owaneeyo, you said, will not be late. Now to the safeties of my white-man’s home, As for you, I care not what you become.’ He rose and from that spot bewildered ran, Which certain frenzy in a silent man Will lead him far, across so many miles, Until hope, despair, through so many trials, His movements slow upon desperate wrath And seek of no return. Forbidden path Upon forbidden path reworks his state Of mind, wherein a dream and conscious fate Arise to follow naught but his ideal, And until he holds it, holds nothing real. Still, at certain moments, from lack of force Or true direction, Scoouwa sought divorce From his purpose and stopped beside a creek, Or looked for tracks in a meadow. The beak Of an owl he could spot in trees, or smell A plant before it came to view, but quell An impulse by Nature made, he could not, And wearying only, by stress grew hot. For with one great jerk he’d retake his way, Then again stop, and watch descend the day; And on and on like this he went, until He sensed his near approach upon a hill. Anxiously, Scoouwa leveled off his gun, ‘I do not care,’ he whispered, ‘I am done!’ And shot a buffalo that down to eat Had cast its head. He sprang on it as fleet With knife, shaking hand, and strange emotion; Skinned the fattest parts by instinct chosen, And chewed upon the flesh until his fire Seared as the pains of underfed desire, Then set two steaks upon the glowing coals And ate, and ate until his brother’s calls Appeased him, then he skinned the other meat, His conscience did his former path defeat: ‘I’m going home, going where my name Will recall the life I had thought to shame— I’m no Indian, but I’ll not let die The man who told me faith was nearby.’ Douglas Thornton is a poet and English teacher living in France and has recently published his first book of poetry entitled Woodland Poems which contains lyrical, narrative, and dramatical works with subjects invented, imagined, and derived from Native American culture. For more information please visit www.facebook.com/woodlandpoems or www.lulu.com/spotlight/DouglasThornton Featured Image: “Sunny Morning” by Thomas Cole Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 4 Responses Shari Jo LeKane-Yentumi April 17, 2015 Astounding poetry! Reply Brenda April 18, 2015 Love this poem! Reply NealD April 17, 2016 Attractive in its own right and evocative of Longfellow’s Song. Vous avez les bons mots et d’espirit, frere! Reply NealD April 17, 2016 je suis desole, “un esprit” Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.