November 19, “Winchester .44,” from NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days

44

Winchester .44

Thanksgiving week, traditionally,
was for butchering in Nicholas County,
as late November air was likely to remain 
cool. Winter was the only 
refrigeration on Horse Ridge.

Dad told us that when he was a boy,
this was the week of the hog, fattened
with his diet of late season chestnuts
that smothered the ground under the grove
near the woodlot.
Dad's father and uncles mourned 
the passing of the great trees, 
soon chestnuts would wither to a memory,
like the hog's fate.
chestnut
One of the elders brought out 
their father's Winchester,
a sturdy rifle 
that Perry Coe used to hunt with 
since settling in this high 
timber country in 1880.
They corralled the beast under 
the lower bough of a sugar 
maple near the pen, 
put a .44 round
into his brain, and hoisted 
the 400 pound carcass high
with hemp rope twined through 
a pair of block and tackle pulleys.

Once the boar was gutted,
life blood drained, a pair of
uncles stood side by side 
to peel off the cuts of pork 
with boning knives.
Organ meat was the first 
to be cooked, not preserved,
salted or pickled. The smokehouse was cleared, cord wood of oak burned for days, apple or hickory added to flavor the hams and slab meat. Chunks of loin were cut for the mincemeat pie, sausage ground for the Thanksgiving feast, this clan's Samhain. I remember holding the old Winchester before it was stolen, a memory withering like the chestnut tree, like the fate of the hog.

 

excerpted from
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)

About orangeacorn

We are, I believe, and everything is, in perpetual unfolding/enfolding/evolving. By surface appearances, we're in turmoil and fearfullness, but in fact our existence is on the edge of a new way, beyond the US versus THEM we have grown with. I encourage you to join me over coffee or tea in face-to-face encounters. I call this exercise, "CAFFEINE COMMUNION: Encounters with Paradigm Pioneers." I'm a Columbus, Ohio husband, father and citizen. I practice string band sounds from the ridges of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, the vortex of the ancient drone.
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