I haven’t written about this before

Because I had a geas against it

But I have a distant cousin

Who was one of the most famous mountain

Dulcimer players in the world.

When I was a young man

The irascible Appalachian poet Don West

Separated me from my companions

What are doing with them Yankees, son?

Your own people are calling out to you in need!

And took me to her porch in Jeff, Kentucky

-two or three hours away from where we were camping-

He left me there and drove away-never came back

That’s the way Don is, she said.

Do you want me to fix you a pallet on the floor?

But I said no and started hitch-hiking down the mountain

Around dusk-a two-day adventure that had me

Sleeping in the woods and walking for 20 miles.


She was a handsome woman somewhere in her fifties

Rail thin and quiet-her long reddish hair in a tail down her back

She had a husband but he left us to ourselves

In the long light that afternoon gives

At one point she started singing, and I tried

To help her out on amazing grace

She said You could have a good voice

Iffen you ever used it.

That’s what I remember-women say it to me today.


Here’s the funny part-almost 30 years later

She came to me in a dream

And helped me edit one of her mountain hymns

Into a pagan ballad-a goddess tune

In my dream we worked on this for a long time together

And in the morning I had it all

But she made me promise not to tell her preacher

Or anybody else-for the next 15 years

Every time I sang that song in public

I lost her name somewhere, couldn’t remember it

But she died a couple of years ago

And I seem to have been released-

This morning I felt it

And wrote this down for you:

The Lady she said unto me:

Do you like my garden so fair?

You can live in my garden

If you’ll keep the waters clean

And I’ll return in the cool of the day

 Now is the cool of the day

Now is the cool of the day

This world is a Garden

And a Garden for us all

Let us walk in the Garden, in the cool of the day.

Let us walk in the Garden, in the cool of the day.





3 thoughts on “Cool of the Day

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