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James Still

"Dance on Pushback"


Rein your sorry nags boys, buckle the polished saddle
And set black hats aslant the wind down Troublesome,
There are doings on Pushback at Gabe Waye's homeplace
And the door hangs wide, the thumping keg bubbles
With gonesome plumping in the elderberry patch;
The cider brew strains against red cob stoppers
And the puncheon floor is mealed for the skip and shuffle,
Ready for the stamping, waiting for the hopping,
The Grapevine swing, the ole Virginie reeling
In the grease lamp's fuming and unsteady gleaming.
There are jolly fellows heading toward Pushback
In the valley's brisk breathing, the moon's white bathing,
In the whippoorwill's lonesome never answered calling.
Gabe Waye has six fair young daughters
Who dance like foxfire in dark thickets,
Whose feet are nimble, whose bodies are willowy,
As smooth as yellow poplars in early bud,
And their cheeks are like maple leaves in early autumn,
And their breath as sweet as fresh mountain tea.
Gabe Waye has six full-blooming daughters
With dresses starched as stiff as galax leaves,
Awaiting the dancing, awaiting and hoping.
Rein-up the filly, boys hitch-up the stallion
And heigh-o yonder toward Pushback Mountain,
The katydids a-calling, the hoot-owl a-hooting,
Thick hooves are striking fire on the crookedy trail,
For feet are yearning for the heart-leaf weaving
And a sight of Waye's daughters doing the Fare-you-well.
Gabe Waye has three tall strapping sons
Standing six feet five in wide bare feet,
And with handsome faces where laughter's never fading,
And with swift limber fingers for silver strings twanging.
The tallest picks the banjo, the thickest saws the fiddle,
The broadest plays the dulcimer with the readiest grace,
And the three together set the darkling hollow ringing
While the harmony goes tripping over moon-dappled hill.
Spur-up the nags boys, the dance won't be lasting,
Tighten up the reins and set the pebbles flying,
Heigh-o to Pushback with a quick lick-a-spittle,
Night will be fading and moonlight dying.

© James Still
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