Samuel Packwood Burns at the Stake
Sandra de Helen
“Dear God, Forgive me my sins and take me
straight to Heaven where my wife and parents
wait for me. Oh God, please do not let me
suffer.” His head is covered. He cannot see
the throng of friends and relatives gathered
on the banks of the Greenbrier River waiting
for the Shawnee chief to set him aflame.
“Heathens! Savages! Let him go!” But no
rifles are fired. Only voices are raised.
Shawnee warriors are dressed for this ritual.
Clad in skins and paint. Carrying spears and
torches, they whoop in excitement, the thrill
of justice about to be served hot.
“We will get them, Father!” the last words
Samuel hears in English before the smoke
overtakes him. As his head falls to his chest,
a young rider yanks the cover from Samuel's
head. “White Eyes! Watch our sacred dance!”
Packwood's clan misunderstand, and roar:
Long live Samuel Packwood!
Sandra de Helen lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. You can see her current work in Mom Egg, Stillwater Review, and pay attention: a river of stones.