(for my mother)
by Jeffrey F. Lockwood
IKoo-koosh left his place of birth and journeyed far to find boo-beesh. He soon came
to a place, a very strange place, with a strange language and strange customs, and
everything was crowded together and built upon itself. It was a busy place, and it was
getting busier all the time. He couldn't rest in such a place. Lizards spied on him, he
was certain of that, and the air smelled of overly ripened elderberries, especially at night. And, if things couldn't get any worse for koo-koosh, no one there seemed to care that he
was in search of boo-beesh. "I must leave this place at once!"
And koo-koosh moved on.
On his journey to find boo-beesh, koo-koosh met coyote. But coyote had fleas, lots of
them, for he was a dirty thing and not very smart. Still he was smarter than porcupine, though not as smart as koo-koosh. Koo-koosh walked a little further and, in doing so,
found boo-beesh. And was he ever pleased with himself. But he also found two
chickens and one bear. The chickens were young but the bear was old, and koo-koosh
kept them only a short while before the chickens disappeared. Koo-koosh suspected
coyote. The bear, well, koo-koosh left the bear alone, for there's little anyone can do with
an old bear. But in all the ruckus, koo-koosh forgot all about the boo-beesh he found and walked on.
Koo-koosh reached a great, raging river, on his journey to find boo-beesh, and found
an old, rickety, wooden bridge on which to cross it. The bridge looked dangerous, but koo-koosh started to cross it anyway. It was the dead of night, a moonless night, and the bridge creaked with every step he took. The river churned below. What if I fall from
this old, rickety, wooden bridge and into this raging river below me? Koo-koosh was fearful. The river would surely sweep him away and he might drown and never reach the other side where, most certainly, there was plenty of boo-beesh. More than he could ever want, he was sure of that. Koo-koosh sat on the bridge and cried. His journey took him
far from his birthplace and now, with boo-beesh so close, he could go no further.
Suddenly, without even thinking, koo-koosh jumped off the bridge and into the river
below. The river swept him away, just like he knew it would, and he barely kept himself above water, but he did, and koo-koosh made his way to the other side. But koo-koosh, being koo-koosh, walked on away from the boo-beesh, in search of something new.
*koo-koosh means pig in Odawa.
*boo-beesh means soup in Odawa.
I was born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but I've lived in many places since
my graduating from high school. I now live in ChangChun, Jilin Province, China. Life
is simple here, though not as simple as it was in my childhood, in all the love and encouragement of my family and family friends. Many of my written works are about
those years, sometimes in simple description and sometimes in metaphor. "Koo-koosh" is
one of those works. My works have appeared in online and print publications, such as SNReview, The Bitter Oleander Press, Tiferet, A Journal of Spiritual Literature, and my chapbook in these low mountains (March Street Press, 1995). I'm a member of the
by Jeff ((I'm not the grasshopper guy) Lockwood
Old Ned was dead;
he said, "I have nothing left,"
but blood and dirt and this
old saddle blanket.
("It'll do me no good!")
A smoky-blue haze
in these, low mountains?
"I'll go crazy this winter."
But he smelled wet earth
and he knew tradition.
Osprey, once a boy, alone and away he sang.
I wait for springtime, for the river
to run rapid, for the osprey to return.