>hang your clothes on a hickory limb


When I was this size, my father taught his kids and nieces how to pose for the camera.
In this photo he asked for mean poses.
As you can see, I was the cousin with older brothers.
I won the contest for looking mean.
(Mike said-  you have to squint your eyes.)
(Pat said-  you have to make your mouth feel mad.)
(Mary said- oh look, there is food on the table behind us . . .)
(Mom said- Sherry! Did you cut your bangs again?!)

But contrary to this photo, I was actually a scaredycat.

(The photo still embarrasses me . . .)
***** ***** *****
Then our family moved to a power camp
next to one of the greatest waterfalls of the Missouri River.
If you are a Lewis and Clark fan, you’ll know that even they could not go in this water.
They spent weeks portaging around the falls.

Our parents forbade us to ever go near the water.
Our father often sang us this song:
Mother may I go out to swim,
Yes my darling daughter,
Hang your clothes on a hickory limb,
But don’t go near the water.

Danger: The waters behind this sign are closed
to boating, sailing, floating and swimming.
(Seriously? No sailing or boating?)

Mike and I would dangle Pat over the upriver side of the dam
so Pat could retreive half-frozen ducks for us to take home. 

(Look Mom! This duck followed us home!)

***** ***** *****

Here, you find us somewhere between home and on our way to The Top of the World.
Comes the day when I find myself singing the same song to my two children.

Look close. First you see my son. Behind him a bit to the left is his sister.
She asked –  could she go take photos of flowers?

Sure my darling daughter . . .
hang your clothes by the hickory limb
but don’t go near the water.
The tiny white speck at the top of the canyon,
on the right side of the raging water
is my daughter.
Likely, she was hanging those clothes on the hickory limb . . .

Why she couldn’t take the path that her mother recommended?
See how safe her mother is?
Why must we want the flower
that grows on the edge of cliffs?



About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

4 responses to “>hang your clothes on a hickory limb

  1. >Your posts often send me ricocheting somewhere, in this case here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVam-fshUgw&feature=related

  2. >Ah, I see it won't link. Maybe cut and paste if you're interested.

  3. >this is a song i didn't know. it really hits home:"every time she fell, i caught her""i lost every time i fought her"not that i would fight her, because she's tuned to something she's sure of and so i trust her to do as she must. (but the edge of water? surely she doesn't need to go there. . .?!)**in tracking down the extra lyrics to the hickory song, i was surprised to find a book called "the hickery limb" (i love old illustrated books). i'll post the link here and then see if i can share an illustration from the book to the actual post. the illustration is called "Eddie Grote was in a tight place." oh la la!http://www.archive.org/details/hickorylimb00fill(you may need to copy and paste the link as well) (and then the column to the left has a variety of formats available. i chose the pdf file to view the book.)

  4. >so here is a link to the racy illustration regarding eddie grote(then consider that this book was published at the turn of the 20th century)http://www.archive.org/stream/hickorylimb00fill#page/36/mode/2up

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