Montana Authors Project

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Clouds lift up Ruby Valley As the medicine man unveils Feelings of illusion. The poet paints with wails Of inner heart commotion, Life is a song of feelings.…


Scanlan Lake was a man-made sort of lake-pond that was Miles City's best stab at a municipal pool. It had two wooden docks set fifty yards apart, which was a regulation distance according to federation swim rules.... Every May the city released a flow tube and filled the then-empty lakebed with diverted water from the Yellowstone River—baby catfish, flukes, minnows, snakes, and tiny iridescent snails that fed on duck poop and caused the red rash of bumps known as swimmer's itch, the rash that covered the backs of my legs and burned, especially in the soft skin behind my knees. (12)…


Undoubtedly, our differences would not have seemed so great if we had not been such a close family. Painted on one side of our Sunday school wall were the words, God Is Love. We always assumed that these three words were spoken directly to the four of us in our family and had no reference to the world outside, which my brother and I soon discovered was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana. (7)…


[Max] settled down and began to build his ranch. And on that he labored strenuously. In the work of those early years he rarely had anyone to help. It was not laziness, and it was not romanticism. While it was true that the old life was much cleaner than the present existence, it was still hard for a white man to stomach. (42)…


It was in the fall of 1878 before the Priest came to the Cree buffalo camp on the Musselshell River, nearly one day's ride from the Pend d'Oreille camp...his name was Father Landre. He followed the Cree buffalo camps in Canada and lived in the tepees with them like an Injun...and said Mass and preached to them in the Cree language. His church was a large one, the vaults of heaven and generally on a creek bank under a tree. His altar stood there, the tail end of a Red River cart. It was some sight to see, on the banks of the Musselshell, in that Injun camp, on that day when In-who-lise and I were married. (260)…


Just to see The awe of the mountains Is good enough, A view of Crazy Mountains. Just to be is good enough. You see, this was A free country Before America ever was. Under the laws Of nature The mountains, our Mother.…


The ride took maybe a minute and a half down Main Street (including the stop sign and two stop lights): past Kip's Minute Market, which had Wilcoxin's hardpack ice cream and served two scoops almost too big for the cones; past the funeral homes, which stood kitty-corner from one another; through the underpass beneath the train tracks; past the banks where they gave us Dum-Dum Pops when our parents deposited paychecks, the library, the movie theater, a strip of bars, a park—these places the stuff of all small towns, I guess, but they were our places, and back then I liked knowing that. (5)…


About then we drove into the big tamaracks where our cabin is. There suddenly it was cool. The tamaracks are from eight to twelve hundred years old, their age and height keeping the heat out. We went swimming even before we unloaded the car. (52)…


As we passed the accident crosses nearer and nearer to our Reservation lease, like silvered warnings along a route of pilgrimage, the landscape emptied and emptied until there was no hint of flowing water or tree cover. Then sometime beyond noon on the third day, a sudden earth-splitting trench of both: the Two Medicine, a middling, green-banked river which somehow had found itself a gorge worthy of a cataract. (203-204)…


After four days of a rough and tumble trip for the wagons, we came out on the Bozeman trail on the Yellowstone River. Following the Bozeman trail up the Yellowstone River, I saw some changes since coming by a year ago. There were two or three new ranches above the mouth of the Big Timber on the Yellowstone River, and we met two parties from the Gallatin Valley looking around for a good range to run cattle. (266)…

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