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While The Bannock Bakes
by [?]

* * * * *

In Rory Borealis Land the winter’s long and black.
The silence seems a solid thing, shot through with wolfish woe;
And rowelled by the eager stars the skies vault vastly back,
And man seems but a little mite on that weird-lit plateau.
No thing to do but smoke and yarn of wild and misspent lives,
Beside the camp-fire there we sat — what tales you told to me
Of love and hate, and chance and fate, and temporary wives!
In Rory Borealis Land, beside the Arctic Sea.

One yarn you told me in those days I can remember still;
It seemed as if I visioned it, so sharp you sketched it in;
Bellona was the name, I think; a coast town in Brazil,
Where nobody did anything but serenade and sin.
I saw it all — the jewelled sea, the golden scythe of sand,
The stately pillars of the palms, the feathery bamboo,
The red-roofed houses and the swart, sun-dominated land,
The people ever children, and the heavens ever blue.

You told me of that girl of yours, that blossom of old Spain,
All glamour, grace and witchery, all passion, verve and glow.
How maddening she must have been! You made me see her plain,
There by our little camp-fire, in the silence and the snow.
You loved her and she loved you. She’d a husband, too, I think,
A doctor chap, you told me, whom she treated like a dog,
A white man living on the beach, a hopeless slave to drink —
(Just turn that bannock over there, that’s propped against the log.)

That story seemed to strike me, pal — it happens every day:
You had to go away awhile, then somehow it befell
The doctor chap discovered, gave her up, and disappeared;
You came back, tired of her in time . . . there’s nothing more to tell.
Hist! see those willows silvering where swamp and river meet!
Just reach me up my rifle quick; that’s Mister Moose, I know —
There now, I’VE GOT HIM DEAD TO RIGHTS. . . but hell! we’ve lots to eat
I don’t believe in taking life — we’ll let the beggar go.

Heigh ho! I’m tired; the bannock’s cooked; it’s time we both turned in.
The morning mist is coral-kissed, the morning sky is gold.
The camp-fire’s a confessional — what funny yarns we spin!
It sort of made me think a bit, that story that you told.
The fig-leaf belt and Rory Bory are such odd extremes,
Yet after all how very small this old world seems to be . . .
Yes, that was quite a yarn, old pal, and yet to me it seems
You missed the point: the point is that
the “doctor chap” . . . was ME. . . .