Hiking along forty acres of stony trails I hear soft susurrating
lamentations. Streaks of light flash past my line of sight; every time
I turn my head I see something slipping through the trees
out of the corner of my eye. I’m almost certain Indians with drawn
bows are lurking here about, or am I having a waking dream?

I thought my eyes might be playing floater tricks, sparking an oscillating
sway and lurch of quivering shadows between branches and leaves.
A lupine-blue sky overhead highlights the sheer whiteness
of a vaporous presence surrounding me. Maybe I played too many
games of cowboys and Indians, mesmerized by serialized adventures
of the Lone Ranger, Tonto and Tom Mix.

Suddenly, a hawk makes dazzling circles above my head, squirrels
scatter, mice and moles scurry as if they know something’s up.
A slight waft of bluish smoke and a flickering lick of flame
emanate from a crack in a break-neck rocky cliff.

Leaves flutter wildly in all the big shagbark trees.
I hear the whispered chanting and ghostly drumbeat
of tribes who survived massacres, wind and sleet
but still refused to surrender. Trembling, I reach
into their darkness, too late to save their world.
A melancholy murmuring moves between the rocks and leaves.

In search of tangible evidence of Wabanaki apparitions, I reach
into a cracked pocket of the cliff and enter a cave behind
a waterfall. No artifacts remain, only sheets of emerald moss.
Gifts of smallpox-infected blankets will no longer be accepted
in this cavernous blackness they now call home.

Milton P. Ehrlich