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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: I Was There
By Loren T. Lowery


Upon my hills, I hear the drums, slow, solemn. Soon, I know the women will be gone. Some with their children carried on their backs, all moving in a procession of fear.

The womenís faces will match the sounds of the drums, worry etched into their dark eyes. The prairie wind will blow their braids and they will be silent in their thoughts.

Over the sound of the drums, I feel the earth move in a gentle rhythm. It is their feet, the womenís feet. They are moving, walking along the river in cadence to the drums.

The sky is blue like larkspur. The wind rises, stirring the air. My hills whisper ancient secrets, preparing themselves to catch the fallen. They moan a sacred oath. My fields a final cradle to the defeated, my bosom darkened by their blood.

The drums leach the words carried on the wind. On either side, the warriors listen only to the sound of the drums. Prisoners to its palpitation, held in the womb of its hypnotic beat. Dust beckoning dust.

Two foes have taken offense to one another. Yet, I know there is goodness within the sheath of each man. And decency stands on both sides.

I have heard their murmurs beneath the night sky as they lay unsettled on woven blankets and bedrolls. My breast a pillow for their words and offered prayers.

The drums beat faster, louder; the footsteps of the women hasten in pace. I quake in their flight. I am helpless and can only wait.

You are lucky; those who get to chose. A path divides and you say this way - or that. There are no roots to bind you; no river to weigh you down. As a bird, you take wing to fly or to stay. Even in mid-air, you can change your course. Your wings give you freedom.

But I am the hills, I am Little Big Horn. Forever I will be called hallowed. Forever my tundra will be stained red, my sod ripped to bury the dead who fall here today.

As an iron pulled from burning embers, history will brand me; my legacy will be sadness. I did not choose this moment, it was chosen for me. Today, June 25, 1876 becomes my destiny; my birthmark.

Dawn spills over the Montana landscape, native Cheyenne and Custerís cavalry appear along my hills like withered pampas beneath fallen snow. Dark, bruised grass turning into mortal men as they emerge in the morning mist; their bravado withering in the sun

A shot rings out; the hooves of horses thunder over me. The wind pulls back in stifled gasps at the unfolding horror. Men scream, horses scream. Terror blights the sun. Arrows, bullets, hatchets, bind into a single black force of insanity.

Blood mingles with blood and God cups his hand to combine them as one. That which once divided these rivals in life now unites them in death. My hills have become a staircase to the fallen; heaven or hell, an enigma no more.

And then it is quiet and there are sobs and praying and cries for help. The language of anguish is universal, but few pause to hear it. Regret becomes a chasm and words drop off its edge into a pit now too vast, too deep to ever fill.

My hills become steeped in this quiet and soon visitors will come only to hide their ears from its piercing sound. This silence will become my shrine; and those who learn of me will turn away in awe and judgment.

Memory poisons my ground. I am stained. I am judged.

You are lucky, those able to choose. A path divides and you decide this way, or that. You need not stay. You can turn. You can move on. I am the Little Big Horn, I had to stay.

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This article has been read 1021 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Wilber02/08/08
Achingly beautiful. It reads like music with a slow, quiet tempo at the beginning, building to a crescendo and then decrescendo. I would never have thought of using a place for this topic, and you have done it masterfully.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/09/08
So sad, and yet you articulated it beautifully. Masterful.
Patty Wysong02/10/08
This had such an air of haunting beauty to it. And sadness....
Lyn Churchyard02/11/08
I'm not able to add any more to what the others have already said. This is so very, very good.
Leigh MacKelvey02/11/08
This was written so craftably. ( I invented the new word just for this comment) I was pleased with way you described thing using personification and well-chosen similies and metaphors. A completely beautiful and satisfying read.
Jan Ackerson 02/11/08
I've run out of superlative words, so I'll repeat some that I've used a lot--awesome, beautiful, outstanding.
Shelley Ledfors 02/11/08
A most amazing entry. I am in awe.
william price02/11/08
I'm just going to bow in awe and respect. This is why I like to read, because every now and then I read something sooooooo good, it inspires me to reach and stretch even farther. I could not have written something this good, or even came up with the idea. Beyond awesome! God bless.
Joy Faire Stewart02/12/08
I found I was holding my breath as this unfolded and I couldn't wait for the next sentence.

"...God cups his hand to combine them as one." Awesome!
Sara Harricharan 02/13/08
You just keep getting better! This is so visual. The you-are-there atmosphere is so thick, I feel the same way at the end, with your last lines. It is so real and so sad, yet still true. Excellent work here! This is a favorite of mine this week! ^_^
Karen Wilber02/13/08
Now I know who wrote this. Wow. This is still good. I have never been to Little Big Horn, but you transported me.
Betty Castleberry02/13/08
I am going to give you what is, for me, the ultimate compliment. This piece reminds me of some of the things my dad used to write. He was a wonderful writer and history buff who used great description in his pieces. This reminded me a lot of his work. Very well done.
Beckie Stewart02/13/08
Your writing draws the reader in and keeps them captivated. Well done.
Debbie Wistrom02/13/08
Thanks for the brick or I would have missed this poignant piece. I truly hope you are pursuing writing and will published if that is your desire.
Rita Garcia02/13/08
Amazing and well written! I love the way you spin a great story!
Maxx .02/13/08
very polished and a certain visual quality to it. Well done ... I'm glad I squeezed in a couple of more stories tonight, otherwise I might have missed this!
william price02/14/08
Congratulations, Loren for writing one of the most moving and just down right original and creative and discriptive entries of the week. God bless.
Betty Castleberry06/25/08
I can't offer you any red ink. I think this is beautiful, and really can't find anything wrong with it.
Catrina Bradley 06/25/08
Wow. I'm searching for red ink. Maybe the judges couldn't see the topic? I'm trying to find it myself - feel free to enlighten me. It scores super-high on every other category for me. But then I'm your #1 fan. ;)
Pat Guy 06/25/08
I loved this prose of history and how you captured the deep sorrow that seemed absorbed from man to land, from land to man ... awesome.
Deborah Engle 06/26/08
Such a melencholy piece. The language was beautiful, and my only question is how well it fit the topic.
Carole Robishaw 06/26/08
This was beautifully written. IMHO the ONLY problem is that it just isn't really on topic.

It really made you see and feel the history and the sadness because of our inability to live together. Our insistence that being different makes "them" subhuman, and therefor not to be considered when we want what they have.