Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Town Branch

[inspired by Poetry Thursday]


The Town Branch

We were drawn there.
Pulled by -- oh, I don't know.
Probably by hearing Mom yell,
"Stay out of the branch!"
But we went
whenever we weren't
specifically
forbidden to do so.

The small trickle of water
had worn its way down, down,
down into the earth,
a whole five feet deep
in places.
It did that next to the road
just before it passed through
the large culvert
to come out the other side.

In other places
a worn footpath
ran along beside it
in the summer sun.
The town branch
was like that
where it passed under
the railroad trestle,
another semi-forbidden place.

Something else
must have pulled us.

Kids in another part of town
used to catch
crawdads
near the branch.
But we didn't.

In the summer heat,
the trees along the edge
shaded us,
so it was cooler.

It had mud.
That was always
a plus.
With a stick and mud,
we somehow always found
ourselves entertained.


It was a backdrop,
more dramatic
than the open,
sun-baked
grassy areas,
and
even darker than
the close-together trees
past the picnic pavilion.

Leaping across the
small stream of water
was a stand-in
for crossing a mighty river,
or a force-field,
or a canyon.

Maybe it was just
that we saw
everything else
as so plain,
so flat
and constant.

And the town branch
changed,
flooding in the spring,
always moving
through our world
but not staying put.

You know,
I don't think
I ever
followed it
to see
where
it either
joined another
waterway
or left town
on its way
elsewhere.

And now
I see
that after all
I
was the one
who left
the town branch
behind.





(The town branch really did wend its way throughout my small hometown, flooding the same few houses every spring, largely harmless in other places. And I think my mom mostly wanted us to stay more out of the mud, or closer to the house, than anything really about the water, itself.)

4 comments:

Clare said...

This has such a good flow to it! And I also really enjoyed the details and imagery. The lines "stand-in/ for crossing a mighty river/ or a force-field,/ or a canyon" were especially brilliant.

Remiman said...

A well crafted easy read of childhood memories well kept in the branching recesses of your mind!
rel

sister AE said...

Clare - thank you, i was pretty pleased with those myself. I'm still playing around with the order of this. I'm thinking the "worn footpath/railroad" section should probably go before the "down, down/culvert" section, but I'm going to leave it a bit before I decide for sure.

Remiman - thanks. i'm always surprised what is hiding in those branching recesses, myself!

bookbinds said...

I liked how the image of the town branch served as the anchor for exposing different childhood memories. The revelatory ending lines were particularly powerful. Thanks for sharing.