Poem Of The Evening, August 7, 2014

Here is the poem The Creek in its entirety.  Thank you, readers, for bearing with me in these three stages.  I appreciate the helpful and thoughtful comments thus far.  I welcome further conversation about this poem.

 

The Creek

I

Our creek was not like the ones in the books

There was no waterfall, no deep, blue hole, no long placid runs

like those in the calendar pictures.

Ours was just behind the back yard

and through a thicket of sumac and brambles,

vines and nettles

and poison ivy

I had to crawl through.

This was the snaking strip of land

That defied development

A steep drop into that narrow ravine

It ain’t even worth trying to mow it.

Why did I ever think it worthwhile to skinny through all of that, just to see that measly trickle

except that when I entered that vale I vanished from the world.

There were no fish, not even a minnow, though I searched every puddle and suspected that the older boys might have known something I didn’t; might have gone farther and found a secret place.

We younger boys gave names to the biggest rocks.  I found this under the skillet rock.  Me and Rex turned over the grand-dad rock.  Didn’t find nothin’.

When I remembered, I brought a coffee can with me. Red Folgers with a   dangerously sharp rim.  I put in moss, leaves and sticks and half an inch of water and there I kept my prizes: crawfish, the salamanders we called lizards and now and then some strange, eyeless creature that no one could name.

 

II

Once it rained very hard for a long time and I waited, wondering.

Alright, you can go out now, but you take those boots off on the porch.  I don’t want you tracking mud onto these floors.

I ran across the soggy lawn to my tunnel through the brush and weeds.  Halfway down the ravine, I heard the laughter of the rising water.

Across the way

the fat, brown milk

tugged at the trunk of a tall ragweed

pulling the stem down

then releasing it

pulse after pulse

like the arm of a metronome.

I stood there and surveyed the wonder, satisfied.  I thought,

like the once starved and now accepted lover,

I always knew it could be this way.

 

I forgot my boundaries and pushed down the stream

over logs and stones and,

doing the forbidden,

wading the torrent where necessary

until I was out of that hollow an onto a broad back lawn

that I had never seen before

now a brown lake

big enough for a canoe.

 

III

I ran back home with the confidence that the world had come to me and took my fishing pole from the garage and worked my way back into the ravine, pointing the pole before me, like a fencer’s foil, through the narrow passage.

In the house with the flooded back lawn a man and a woman sat at coffee.  There was a picture-window in the back of the house, looking onto the flood

geraniums in the sill

That day’s newspaper, still wet on one edge, opened across the coffee table.

The man stood up and said

Look out there.  Now we got a kid fishing in that mud-hole.

She looked through the window. 

Don’t you run that little boy off.  You let him play.

 

 

 

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