I am a mere whisper of what was, 
An ethereal mist of time 
Inviting you to a party…of enlightenment. 
To take you to a place 
You have not been before 
   that you remember. 

I know the house appears to be one of gloom, 
But come with me and you will be surprised. 
In this dwelling from a past era of great stateliness 
You will have an evening of joy and laughter. 
Do not be hasty in judging it by its exterior appearance, 
The outside is just the housing for what's inside. 
Many an ugly lady has a beautiful heart 
And a handsome gentleman might be the devil incarnate, 
Who knows what lays on the pages of a book 
Until the cover is opened to reveal its treasure. 

Tonight we are using the grand ballroom 
To honour the Victorian Era 
And it would be a great privilege if you would join us. 
We have hung upon the walls the artwork 
Of several of our favourite artists, 
Amongst them Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, 
Claude Monet, Dante Rossetti and John William Waterhouse, 
So much talent for us all to be thankful for. 

This was the time of devotion to magnificence, 
The beauty of refined taste, 
The appreciation of the artist within, 
Regardless of whether the artist 
Used a brush or a quill…to express themselves. 
A time of high morals, modesty and proper decorum 
Thanks to our beloved Queen and her Consort, 
See… here is hung a most marvellous portrait 
Of this royal pair, that we gladly bent our knee to. 

We will be entertained by the quick wit 
Of a satirical Oscar Wilde, 
Follow Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson 
As they track down the dishonourable Moriarty. 
We will appreciate the historian-like attitude 
Of a most prominent Charles Dickens, 
And follow Alice Through The Looking Glass. 

The words of the Brownings will enlighten us 
And leave us with loving, happy hearts, 
Whilst the words of Rudyard Kipling and Lord Alfred Tennyson 
Will take us to new heights of awareness, 
And appreciation for the written word. 

We will applaud loudly and praise the legal abolishment, 
In the Americas - of slavery. 
Give proper respect to Harriet Beecher Stowe 
A woman of great courage… to write about the black man's plight, 
Yet she claimed to be naught but an instrument of God, 
To Him she gave the glory. 
We will also reflect upon the Salvation Army 
The strength it showed in the helping of the poor and needy. 

In the background, a small group of musicians will play lightly 
The waltzes that elate our souls and make our feet tap. 
We will have tea with finger sandwiches and biscuits 
And play games that delight child and adult alike, 
Silly 'make me laugh' games 
And the most popular of word games, 
My favorite was and is 'Grandmother'sTrunk'. 

The evening is going to be full of words, art and music, 
Honouring the great of this time period, 
And of course we must not forget those who invented, 
We have the Singer Sewing Machine 
With thanks to Isaac Singer. 
We shall stand up and applaud Mr. Ford and Mr. Edison 
And all the others who contributed their brains and talent 
To make this a better world. 

Then as smoke it will all disappear… 
And tomorrow? 
Maybe we will fill the ballroom with the Ancient World, 
Delight you with Regency, 
Or welcome you to the enchantment of the Medieval, 
Perhaps you would like a visit with the Renaissence, 
Or enter into the Georgian period of time, 
Of course there is always the Edwardian age 
Whichever pleases you…we Spirits will be happy to oblige. 

Please come back tomorrow. 

Preaching Man

We felt him...long before we saw him, 
He came into the General Store, 
Asking directions to Ridge Cabin, 
The old preacher's place. 

He was tall, six feet or more, 
Dressed all in black from head to toe. 
His attire topped by a long black coat, 
That way covered the top of his boots, 
In fact hit his ankles as he walked. 
A most expensive item...that flowing coat, 
Never seen one in our small town before, 
We were but a town in humble beginnings. 

He had an air of authority, 
Or maybe it was arrogance about him. 
Looked you square in the eyes, 
And you couldn't help 
But be the first to turn away. 
Not the sort of person 
You would want to meet alone 
In a dark alley 
    was a thought of the first reckoning. 
Looked like he could hold his own, 
Yet he wore no guns. 
Just who could this stranger be 
Wanting the old preacher's place. 

The old preacher he had died 
Two full moons before, and then some. 
Ridge Cabin, always a dismal place, 
Had sat desolate and unattended 
Ever since then - we told the stranger this, 
He smiled, and in a 'sit up and take note' voice 
Told us would be empty no more 
    he was the new preacher. 

He bought some staple supplies 
Loaded them in a rickety wagon, 
Being pulled by two tired-looking horses, 
Climbed up on the buckboard 
And said he hoped to see us Sunday. 
He would appreciate it, he said 
If we passed the word around...that church 
Would be back and running by then. 
Picnic baskets would be welcomed, 
By all those wishing to be neighborly 
And socialize after services. 

Tied to the back of the wagon 
Was the most magnificent stallion 
Any one of us had ever seen, 
Pure white with fire dark eyes 
And a mane and tail of great length. 
He left us scratching our fool heads, 
Never before seen a preaching man 
Who looked...or acted, like him. 

Young Jeb, a for sure troublemaker, 
Close to his twentieth year 
And a fast draw with his daddy's Colts, 
Mouthed of as soon as the man left. 
I'm going to ride me that stallion, 
Maybe even own it one day, 
A preaching man don't need 
No spirited animal like that. 

A man should own such an animal, 
And I aim to be that man. 
Always a loud-mouthed obnoxious young'un 
We all just kinda ignored Jeb, 
Although I filed his nonsense away 
In my mental file box, for future reference, 
In case the need should ever arise 
    for recollection. 

Curiosity filled the church the first Sunday, 
But the powerful, positive preaching 
Kept it filled every Sunday after that. 
No hellfire and brimstone sermonizing, 
Our lives became joy and glory filled 
As we basked in the loving word of God, 
A God we were getting to know for the first time. 

We loved to see the preaching man 
Sitting atop his white stallion, 
Was like man and horse had melded, 
    become one, 
And that intolerable young Jeb? 
Well! He was coveting that horse, 
And in reflecting back, 
I knew he would try something foolish. 
And for sure he didn't let me down - he did. 

The Sunday picnic was well under way, 
We sat talking and laughing 'neath the large elm trees, 
When we heard a ruckus from the stallion's stall. 
That Jeb - the dang young fool - had tried to climb it's back, 
Why! Anyone with a lick of sense 
Could tell this was a one man horse. 
An angel for the preacher, a hellion for anyone else. 
Jeb was filled with anger and too much hard cider, 
And was taking a whip to the rearing stallion, 
Whose hoofs were aiming to come down on top of the boy. 
We stood in silence not understanding Jeb's stupidity 
And in awe at the way the preacher 
Calmed down the animal. 

Well Jeb took of in a huff, embarrassed, 
But was soon back...toting his daddy's guns, 
And calling out the preaching man to take him on. 
He called the man 'yella', and clucked like a chicken 
And would not let up tormenting the preacher, 
And all we did was stand around, not knowing what to do 
With our mouths wide open - like complete idiots. 

The preaching man turned, and went into his home, 
Never as much as uttering a sound, 
And we didn't know that maybe Jeb wasn't right. 
But when he came out he carried a poster 
And a hammer and nail in the one hand, 
While in the other he carried a well-worn gun belt 
With two of the largest guns ever seen by us here, 
And you would have to have been blind not to see 
How well notched they were. 

On the outside of the horses stall he hammered the poster, 
Motioned Jeb over to read it and then draw if he wanted to. 
Poor Jeb, he read it, his hands moved to his gun belt 
We stood in fear, and then in amazement 
He unbuckled it, and let it fall to the ground, 
Picked it up...turned around, got on his horse, 
Headed right back into town. 

We all clamored to see the poster, 
We recognized the name and the picture 
Was the preaching man in much younger days. 
A gun-slinger with a large price on his head, 
A young outlaw who had never been outdrawn. 
He'd paid his dues and then cleaned up his act, 
Medalled in the army, served well as Marshall 
Of dirty towns with criminal elements. 
He was also Jeb's hero from a very early age, 
He'd always fashioned himself after the outlaw. 
When he disappeared no one knew where he went, 
But now we did, he came to our small town, 
He became our preaching man. 

He died, after nearly 20 years here with us, 
But Ridge Cabin won't stay empty this time. 
Jeb is married now, 
Blessed with wife and four young'uns, 
He's our new preaching man, 
Following his the end.

The Dream

It was a dream…
Like none other I had ever had.
I was me…but not me.
I was in another time, another place.

I stood within a mausoleum
Staring into an empty vault,
That was not empty,
For within, I could see myself.
It had no distinguishing marks
As to whom it belonged.

I was but a penciled image,
Naught but a sketch
On handmade paper.
Yet deep within myself
I knew I would ameliorate,
And eventually become
Somehow… more desirable.

This dream was so strange,
So vivid, so real.
The illustration I had seen
Left an enduring picture
On my questioning mind.

In an awakened state,
The vision never left me,
It was always right before me.
I wondered who I was,
And what it all could mean.

How many months later?
Five or six… maybe.
On a European vacation tour,
I stood mesmerized,
Trapped within confining walls
Of a small art gallery,
In front of a portrait
Of 'the me' in my dream.

A striking oil painting
By an unknown artist.
I was no longer a rough draft,
I was a visionary
To my dream.

My hair was a dark titian red,
With curls that gracefully cascaded,
To touch my shoulders
My smile was slightly flirtatious,
My eyes filled with expectation,
My cheeks crimson… a ladylike blush.

It was titled simply…

Our beloved daughter
Elizabeth Jane Huston
Born 1842
Died 1865.

That was it… nothing more
Nothing less.
But I knew, without doubt
I needed to know no more.
The picture now hangs,
In a place of honor
On my living room wall.

It was a dream…
Like one other that I had once had.
I was me…but not me.
I was in another time, another place.
I stood within a mausoleum
Staring at a closed vault,
That was no longer empty.

A carved plaque
Stated simply…

Our beloved daughter
Elizabeth Jane Huston
Born 1842
Died 1865.

I know that the body,
Is safely encrypted,
It is recognized, it is home.
The soul has been freed,
And I am no longer
The same person
I once was. 

Page Two
All materials on these pages are copyrighted 
to the author.  All rights reserved.
Dinah Serritelli   © 2010
Native American Art used with permission