Saturday, April 19, 2008

The River That Doesn't Exist

Another new, "ink still wet", poem. Sort of a prose poem, I guess. Not sure about the title, whether I want the long version or the short version of the title, or something different entirely.

ETA: after reading this at Larry's tonight, I'm posting the edits I did before the reading. I got a good response, including a personal comment from the guy with the cool voice.

Fictional Truths About a Childhood That Never Happened and a River That Doesn’t Exist

The river in my hometown always looked muddy, even during the drought of 1988, when the thermometer on our back porch read 110 in the shade and we all ran around in our underwear, even if, at ten, I was a little too old to do so. My mother wore a bathing suit top and shorts, still skinny after four babies.

At twelve I felt so adult when I stood in church beside her, three inches taller already, and raised my hands, closed my eyes and swayed as I sang of my desire for God. “As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee.” I knew nothing of desire and so little of longing.

The pastor’s youngest daughter jumped off the highest bridge in the county when she was fifteen, her body found miles downstream. Everyone knew why, but no one would say it.

That water travels into another river and then into the larger one that names this state, and it keeps on going. My sisters and I used to walk barefoot in the creek at the back of the property and talk about touching the ocean through that dirty water. I later learned that our shallow stream dried up long before ever reaching that river which really does, eventually, fight its way free.


Anonymous said...

I love this, especially the paragraph about the pastor's daughter jumping off the bridge that never really tells us why.

Want to read this one?

Emily said...

Thanks! I need to print this one off, so I have the option of reading it.