Looking back now, forty years gone,
my lack of curiosity about the river
I lived with daily disappoints me.
Maybe that’s the way of youth,
to be fixated on origins and ends –
things far off, the cold mountain spring,
the distant sea, not the everyday.
The river itself, a slow brown ox,
harnessed to the yoke of industry,
was as common as my neighbors
and as of as little interest.
I carried with me in those days, before life touched me with failure
and some sympathy, the hard stone of intolerance that the young may bear
for the familiar, to mask their fear and uncertainty.
From the bluffs above Lock and Dam #2
I watched the tugs push their coal barges downriver,
imagined the days and nights of their long journeys,
past Pittsburgh, down the Ohio to the soft-banked Mississippi,
past all the towns with their wonderful sounding names —
Gallipolis, Oceola, Tallulah —
Dreamed of the bayous and salt-washed rivers,
sea-tangled with life —
ibises and spoonbills startling
the cypress swamps —
and the hot green cities –
Baton Rouge, New Orleans —
copper-haired women, skin sheened with sweat,
and the ice-hot wail of a saxophone
calling down heaven.
We were deeply saddened by the passing of our friend, Michael Adams. Please help us share memories of Michael on his Facebook page.