The story is told by Gerald Folger, a colonist with nautical experience, who's has been promised a reward if he leads the less seaworthy Sons of Liberty in a raid on a ship loaded with tea in Boston Harbor. The narrator begins to feel self-conscious about being disguised like a Mohawk when he sees in the crowd Ruthie, an indigenous woman his father once kept as an indentured servant:
When the tea leaves again pile so high that they spill back on deck, Gerald Folger kicks them out onto the harbor’s mud flats. Wearing nothing above the waist but a layer of burnt cork over his skin and chicken feathers in his hair, he has been moving fast to stay warm in the cold December daylight, but the tea leaves keep coming as if they grow below decks. So far they’ve hauled over 200 tea chests out of the ship’s hold and emptied them overboard. They’re a tad past halfway through. The leaves are wearing down the party guests.
So the difference between stories and poems as spoken word seems to be that stories are arranged primarily around scenes; poems are organized by lines. I wasn't conscious of the difference. At least for today, I feel as if stories hold me by scenes and poems hold me with images and sometimes the music of a line.