Being mountain born in the days before modern man were always difficult and more often than not were full of tragedy and death. In my adventure novels I have a recurring theme about the pitfalls of living life near or above timberline. As a storyteller of the Colorado Mountains I have researched the history and have traveled the same trails of the mountain men of old. As I bask in the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, I sometimes forget how dying a silent and lonely death was the norm for those that venture into the Rockies or were mountain born. Here is one of those tales.
In the wind of one winter night a poor little baby is mountain born,
His mother struggled with a knife as the cord was shorn.
Being born of the mountain was always difficult when close to timberline,
Giving birth in the dead of a mountain winter was never a good sign.
As the snow flew – this was something she and her son didn’t need,
For her man was gone – the father who had planted the seed.
He had left the month before for he had a trap line to run,
She never knew a fall from his horse had killed him before he had barely begun.
Little to eat to make the new-born milk – and the baby’s mama cried,
Hoping her mountain man was on his way back; little did she know he had already died.
The wood bin that had been full when her man had left to trap – now was bare,
Odor of burning wood of her last fire as did the aroma of blood from the birth filled the air.
Outside the small cabin walls the mountain wind and northern snow ruled the night,
Little food, or wood, the mother cuddle with her son to fend off their woeful plight.
Her husband and the little one in her arms were everything her heart held dear.
Being mountain born was hardly ever fair—the tragedy of death was always near,
The mother weakened as the flow of blood of the birth had slowed but had not abated,
Without his mother’s milk the baby withered—the mother and child lives were fated.
As the last of the fire and the warmth faded the bitter and silent cold crept in,
It was not if the specter of death would come; it was just a matter of when.
Tears in the mother’s eyes and a blanket filled her hand; being mountain born was full of strife,
With love and the last will of her life the baby’s dying mother took her only baby’s life.
Kurt James © 2018
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