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CLOUD CLIMBER / Michael Mott "The Cherokee lived in the rich, fertile valleys, but gathered their medicine plants from the mountains. Certain sacred plants, such as the red spruce and fraser fir of the higher elevations, could be gathered only by a certain Adowahi, known as the Cloud Climber." —Marie Mellinger When I came down from the ridgetop a stray dog was watching itself in the creek a blacksnake came out of the orange swamp I was not altogether ready for the sunlight a bough of dewberries, the glistening horseflies or the bright nailheads in the fallen schoolhouse Last Chance, the school was called. I took a chair out of the fetid room with half a floor, and sat there peeling the stick that took me up and down the mountain I'd walked away from words and walked all morning and half the afternoon. Without intention I'd crossed the State Line into Carolina Cow bells were jangling somewhere and I wondered how it would be to have a bell always about you and thought of thoughts, that lifelong irritation Somewhere up on the ridge the spell was broken I'd brushed against a herb, or picked a leaf and gone on walking, never knowing the difference but sensing that the day had changed. The grass the trees, were just the same in Georgia and in Carolina and on the gray boards of the school some boy had knifed in "Hello Florence" 16 ¦ The Missouri Review ...


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