The Creek

Last night Isaac and I sat at the computer, pulled up Google maps, and followed the creek behind our house all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. I grew up on the Arkansas River and had family that stretched from Northwest Arkansas (on the same creek) to New Orleans. Each new turn in the river seemed to remind me of another event that shaped my life. I recounted these to Isaac, who enjoyed both the science and the history of the experience. It was a good moment with my son.

This morning, still thinking of my history on the river, I wrote this.

I hope you enjoy it.


The Creek

We trace the Gulf of Mexico from its origin–
the shallow spring-fed creek at Old Wire Road,
where the children play in crawdad pools and
keep eyes peeled for the venom of ancient foes.

The water slips from under rocks and carries
our spent skin and mudbug excrement north,
then west, where the dead parts of us kiss the
Illinois before invading Cherokee territory.

We carve out the heart of their land still,
gather steam, and empty into Ten Killer,
the Lake where choppy waters skied me, the
Lake that stole my High School pride.

We spill way, humbled, mingle with the
Arkansas River, that cruel mother that flooded
my neighborhood when I was twelve. I remember
sandbagging houses at two in the morning.

“These bags won’t hold back that much river,”
I said. The soldier with the Yankee accent agreed,
offered a cigarette. “Sometimes losing battles make
heroes from boys,” he said. At the time, I was naive.

Now, I remember his words pushing through sandbags
like a secret, an omen, a prophecy.

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6 Responses to The Creek

  1. Ah, this is lovely, Seth. My river my Gulf. I felt right at home in your poem. And then the last line, did me in. Wonderful! Btw, If you say crawdad down here, you will be branded an outsider. It’s crawfish, and we eat ’em seasoned and boiled, and we suck their heads. 🙂

    • sethhaines says:

      Isaac kept saying that “really, since it’s all connected, I’m wading in the Gulf.”

      And I love a good boil. My fam is from your neck of the woods (generally speaking). Mom grew up in Monroe, I was born in Shreveport. Attended a wedding under a 600 year old live oak in White Castle last year. I miss it down there. Y’all know how to live life…

      And thank you for stopping in here.

  2. Scotty says:

    Awesome…from a geography teacher’s perspective…just awesome.

    p.s. yankee accents are the best!

  3. J.Ray says:

    I wonder how many prophesies are spoken and omens are collected while we sandbag flooding rivers. And how many are lost when we give up.

  4. Nice, nice, nice. Thanks, Seth.

  5. Pingback: A Whirl of Sorts: Watching Storms | Crossroads

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