another ghost (story)

He wakes, the moss below him is still frozen, beyond him the water pools as the snow has slipped back into rain, leaving him colder now, as he convinces himself against a false dawn, he reaches with accumulated stiffness into the layers of jackets and feels for the dynamite which is there and dry, fifty more in the box buried a few feet away, from where a raven reassures him of the morning, and he forgoes his fire, as he did the night before, but he does not forgo his tobacco, already pressed deep into a pipe made from antler, retrieved from his bag under his head; raising now in the cloud of cherry tobacco and the mist, stretching he nearly steps on a cedar box with a copper lid open- he did not see this when he struck camp as he had no fire and he had not slept on this edge of town prior, for had he, he would have seen what was now presenting into focus- red cedar trees with boxes hanging from the breaches, emblems whittled with oyster shells, boxes have fallen all over, some split open as this one is- which without disturbing he steps over the vessel containing clumps of black hair, and makes it out from the tangled brush- silently, keeping away from any trails leading back into town, or back to the camps ruin- its smashed windows, demolished houses, the internals of the Company grocery are spread out in the mud, white hand prints made from wet flour besmirch the few remaining doors, as if a warning from the men who did this, to this town ruined and abandoned like the others along the coast, emptied by pox and blood- such as he had seen, great long houses, their arching thunderbird entrances left open to the wind that would return no one, he had traveled on and seen this again and again, lining the inlets are eagles perched atop totem poles engulfed by heaping mounds of salmon remains;

but he would not return to town or camp again, he didn’t even look behind himself yesterday to survey the wake of destruction- he had listened from the wilderness to the clamored dismantling of the machines, the tearing asunder of the conveyer belts, but now he would not go through, but far around, as he expects the militia to be arriving, or at least the police, who are gravely outmatched by the strikers, who for weeks now have been out against the mine, taking pot-shots from afar, till yesterday, charging into camp ahead their official eviction- a formality as all the men abandoned the Company shacks to the scabs, and took to the halls of their secret society’s, where above the saloons and below the restaurants in town, ancient orders meet to pass the dark around the hundreds of candles, fiddles, bodhráns and conspiracies, each oath upheld nightly in ritual, every hall open to every worker, but each hall a language of its own, which he could speak all, but never speaking, so that it was only he who’s imagined nationality was not a surname, he who recited all his oaths perfectly would sit always in the back and hear talk of syndicalism and sabotage and the creation of slogans- slugh-ghairm a word split from one of  his origin tongues, which in the highlands was respected as the battle cry’s of warriors engaged in open war in the storm skies- which here-now such battle cry’s sung out without cease as storm after storm blasts in from across the ocean- wars fought over such space that made the sky and the ocean indecipherable ran even the great whales from out the water, their giant skeletons amassed high on the shore, which he would spend transversing any day he was not buried in the mine, being digested through the coal seams, with all the other slaves below and those above- the boys who had replaced the natives at picking up the slate debris and carrying off in baskets of woven cedar branches which are purchased by the Company from the few remaining natives, everyone contending to work themselves to death, creating in the need for survival such friendships as his and the native girl; both know not the others name, he reminded by her of someone else gave to her near everything he made- considerable amounts as he refused from the day he arrived to stay in the Company camp or eat from the Company canteen, he lived in the woods, and as such she called him Kwai-n-tlatl–Wild Man of the Woods, and brought him the backs of salmon and red berries, and took him outside her peoples camp so that he could watch from concealment the gathered clans ceremonies- under clouds choking out the moon, masks of monsters dance with the influence of the fire which brings forth from darkness all but eternity and the black orb carved eyes that witness the young men cloaked in grey wolf skins pass through rites taken amongst the detonations of drumming- rituals so unlike anything performed in his pagan society’s but gave unto him a mightyful affinity; and it was last night after the Company camp had been torn down and after his circulating the town clubs that she found him coming down the stairway of a fraternal lodge and told him, in the style of communication they best understood one another- that her people where having a ceremony, a ghost dance, for they all knew, everyone, that many Sassquec where making their way up the coast, and bringing back with them the gunships- the killers who made way for these mines and would fill them with the last Indian and workers corpse before losing them; but she made sure he understood he was not being invited to spy, she was saying goodbye, they would not wait for the fight between the cannibals, after the ceremony she would join her people setting off in canoes and rejoin the exodus, up or down river, depending on which why she had come- singling thus, she placed a soapstone smoothened into the shape of a black whale into his palm and turned and walked in the direction he now took alone-

almost now at the mines first pithead, through the incandescent amber he could see the archway to the open shaft, the timber rose like the ribs of the giant whales- what kind of power that shapes the world, reaching into his layers of pockets retrieving three bundles of dynamite themselves three apiece, all wired together last night after he had spoken to the girl and decided upon that which he had been considering in the evening, but can never be born of meetings, rather night is midwife to action, and in this dawn it was being carried out, three sticks will do it in- bringing out the dynamite from the pocket which carried the black whale stone, in the opposite breast pocket he took from his tobacco pouch the box of matches, as he was that close now, motioning towards that one swift action, which is cut in half by a rifle shot- his body collapses at the echo of the blast, the ground upon which, that what was once his body- now lays, drinks in the pools of blood being driven down deeper by the rain, the earth opens to take in another ghost.


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