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Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Poem: Whistling in Heaven

This was written by my great-grandmother

T’was late in the autumn of ‘40,
we have come from our far eastern home
just in season time to build us a cabin
e’re the cold of winter should come.

We lived all the while in the wagon 
so husband was clearing the place
where the house should stand in the clearing
and building, it took many days.

So that our heads were scarce sheltered
in under its roof  'till our store
of provision was almost exhausted;
and husband must journey for more.

Well, husband just kissed me and started
I could scarcely suppress a deep groan
at the thought of remaining with baby
so long in the house all alone.

For, my dear, I was childish and timid; 
and brave ones might well have feared.
For the wild wolves were often heard howling
and savages sometimes appeared.

When evening came with its shadows
to hide every ray of light,
I hung up a quilt by the window
and was almost dead with a fright.

I kneeled by the side of the cradle
scarce daring to draw a full breath
lest the baby should wake and its crying
should bring us a terrible death.

There I knelt till late in the evening
and scarcely an inch had I stirred
when suddenly, far in the distance,
the sound of whistling I heard.

I started up dreadfully frightened
for fear t’was an Indian’s call
And then very soon I remembered
the Redman ne’er whistles at all.

And when I was sure t’was a white man
I thought were he coming for ill
he’d surely approach with more caution
would come without warning and still.

The sound coming nearer and nearer
took the form of a tune light and gay;
and I knew I needn’t fear evil 
from one who could whistle that way.

Very soon I heard footsteps approaching
then came a peculiar dull thump
as if someone was heavily striking
an ax in the top of a stump.

And then in another brief moment
there came a light tap on our door.
When quickly I undid the fastening
and in stepped a boy before me.

There was neither a question or answer
or neither had time to speak.
I just threw my glad arms around him
and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

I started back scared at my boldness
but he only smiled at my fright.
Said, "I’m your neighbor’s boy, Aleck
came to tarry with you through the night".

We saw your husband go Eastward
and made up our minds where he’d gone
I said to the rest of my people,
"That woman is there all alone".

I venture she’s dreadfully lonesome;
and though she may have no great fear
I venture she’d feel a bit safer, 
if only a boy were but near.

So, taking my ax on my shoulder
for fear that a savage might stray
across my path and need scalping,
I started right down this way.

And coming in sight of your cabin
and thinking to save you alarm
I whistled a tune just to show you
I didn’t intend any harm.

So, here I am at your service
But if you don’t want me to stay,
all you have to do is to say so
and shouldering my ax, I’ll a’way.

I dropped in a chair and near fainted
at the thought of him leaving me then
His eyes gave a knowing bright twinkle
as he said "I guess I’ll remain."

Then, I just sat there and told him
how terribly frightened I’d been
How his face was to me the most welcome
of any I ever had seen.

Then I lay down with the baby
and slept the blessed night through
For I felt I was safe from all danger
near such a brave young fellow and true.

And now, my kind friends, do you wonder
since such a good reason I’ve given
why I shan’t care for the music
unless there is whistling in heaven?

Yes, often I’ve said so in earnest
and now what I’ve said I’ll repeat
that unless there was whistling in Heaven,
its music will not be complete.

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