Mist, rain and snowmelt gather
And soak the Montana crests.
A trio of rivulets carves the slopes,
Grow to rivers that braid into a single course
And the Missouri is born at Three Forks.
Shoshone and Hidatsu rest from the hunt,
Kneel and cup their hands
To raise life giving liquid to their lips
While horses bow beside them
Bellies filled with the refreshing waters.
The river flows north dividing the tall grasslands,
Plunges over the cataracts at Great Falls,
Churns on the rocks below
And drives inexorably toward the sea.
*Mandan and Sioux
Soft flute sounds drift from the Mandan village
Intertwining with the riffling music of the river.
By its banks a coarse French trapper roasts a rabbit
To share with his Shoshone child-bride.
Sacagawea sings softly beside him -
Charboneau's son stirring in her womb.
Sioux warriors on horseback
Stand guard by the shores.
How many travelers have passed?
How many are yet to come?
Beyond the rolling hills
A buffalo stumbles and falls
Pierced by Lakota arrows and spears.
Boats in the Water
At *River du Bois where the Missouri
Collides with the Mississippi,
Forty men slip into boats and take to the oars
To interpret Jefferson’s continental dream -
Their keelboat laden with sustenance,
Herbs, weapons and powder.
They carry trinkets to dazzle the natives
And cast bronze medals to give them
Bearing images of their "Father in Washington"
That none had asked to have.
— The End —