By the time we walked to Ooltewah
we knew we had a killer in our midst.

When the men went hunting on Lookout Mountain,
Brandywine Sue never returned. His canvas tent
was given over to the widow Crow-eater, Sue’s rifle usurped
by Tams Trixbee, ended up in his hands when he shot
Harridan Jones, the Commissioner from Hopkinsville,
after the marriage to Blossom. They hung Tams for that.

The widow Crow-eater lasted as far as Monteagle,
she and her children died feverish inside Sue’s tent
which we then had to burn. I knew Needles
had complained of his silver knife theft and then
ended up with rusted steel stuck in his neck.
Young Luga was found drunk wearing the empty sheath
and taken by a poplar tree and shot in the teeth.
I took the remainder of Sue’s moonshine jugs
and dumped them empty into the Elk River,
which runs through Estill Springs and Lost Creek,
ends at the sweet water lake in Cave Springs Hollow.
I was separated for a week but I returned to the contingent
with gopher and groundhog and a bagful of mast.
Galen’e’go had left with his herbs. Rinda had been raped.

At Ft. Nashborough, they watched us like guardian bull-bats.
I don’t know but I had heard a few angry and bitter ones
painted themselves red and black and white and red,
went over to the Hermitage and encountered armed slaves,
only managed to kill a dog and throw the body in a well.
One conductor was thrown off his horse the next morning
and stabbed eighteen times while writhing on the ground.
Taylor ordered a slow drumming of the drums and swore
we were all ensconced cold and hungry in the stockade.
Some nurses brought us bread and linens and used blankets.

The march got considerably worse after leaving Nashville.
Tams would proclaim loudly remember Tsali, remember Utsali,
remember the great Tecumseh, the stomping of the earthquake.
Children and widows whispered of a long-haired shadow man
always dripping wet and leaving turkey feathers in his wake.
Pregnant Cherry Stem, Cherry Cheater, Otter Sitter, always
flirting with Captain Breckinridge and lover of Gainsborough
and Timothy Thomas Thompson, the doodler and illustrator,
can’t get pregnant twice she would entice, and they would ply
her with fruits, salt, and the best cuts of ham. She refused
to nurse the dying twins of Nanny Lightfoot for free, very least
demanded candles, soap, a copper pot, eggs, and rising yeast.
We found her drowned facedown in a creek, teats exposed
and milked, siphoned flat like a dairy beast. The twins got
stronger for a week or two only for both to perish near Cadiz.

One eve I ate delicious tripe stew with acorn meal and pepper.
I was told Black Hat had accidentally caught a wild squealer
and then almost got bored through by the pursuing sounder.
But when Gainsborough was found disemboweled on top
of an old Shawnee burial mound, I knew I had to go or I
would soon be laid to rest wearing the next heavy death shroud.
Or maybe not, bodies had been stripped naked of all possessions
and clothes redistributed, tobacco, beads, shells, rings, everything.
I had my guns, knives, coins, bedroll, smoking pouch and pipe.
I began to wonder when Kanati the Hunter would glance
in my direction. I sharpened twenty wooden spears and tracked
all the way upriver to Kuttawa before spearing a big fat catfish
and offering this to the group. In this way I hoped, for the sake
of my soul, to have spoiled Kanati’s thirsty and bloody saliva.

After Tams was hung, I took my lovely purple flower Ianthe,
took Eumenides the orphan, and the half-breed Mrs. Andrews,
paid a man named John Berry all my coins to ferry us across
the river at Golconda, and spent the winter at Cape Girardeau.
After that, I traveled south to Arkansas and settled happy
farming as a sharecropper near Pine Bluff. Mrs. Andrews
broke her ankle outside Jonesborough, we left her at a clinic
last time we saw her. Eumenides ran away after a scolding
from Ianthe. Our first year we grew pole beans. Our second
year we grew pole beans. I was forced to grow cotton next.
We have never been to Oklahoma or west of Fort Smith.

My name is Charlie “Teehee” Longfoot. My wife is Ianthe.
Our children are Charles Jr., Benjamin, (Red) Clay, Ashwin,
Cynthia, Madi, Lily, and little Usdi. Certainly we are blessed
by Grace and Jesus Christ our Savior. This is our legend.