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In 1392, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote:  “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote . . . “  about British pilgrims trekking to Canterbury—the time of sweet showers.  My favorite pilgrimage would be to the Mobile Tensaw Delta, but here we are in the midst of a pandemic when a lot of us are sheltered in place. Let us do, then, what the pilgrims did – and tell stories. I would like to suggest that—if you are reading this—you send me a story about a river.  It need not be about the Delta’s Tensaw River – but a river you know or have known since childhood.  I am going to post here a poem about Magnolia River in Magnolia Springs, Alabama. My grandparents grew up at the foot of the springs – and many of my childhood memories are associated with the river and the springs. I used to play in the water, and one day, when I climbed on a large rock, there was a snake stretched across it—just in front of me.  I jumped in the water—not realizing that the snake might be a water moccasin.  I made it to shore. 

So, I decided to write a river poem.  The challenge was to make the words fit into a certain space with even left and right margins.  Since our lives are more and more circumscribed, I started with longer lines than moving to smaller and smaller, more confined spaces until the poem opened up again.


Magnolia River at Magnolia Springs, Alabama

Stories harken back to its settlement as a Spanish land’s grant in 1800.

This is my story. And Grandma’s as we walked along the sylvan shores

of Magnolia River where we threw stones in the river’s mouth;

it swallowed men if they swam the dank depths of Devils Hole.

The river harbors tales retold, tales sketched in rock to be read

as a raddolcendo, and so sing these sirens that steal onto rocks,

          who test, taunt, tease, tempt and trick sojourners

who refuse to discern and doubt the water’s ways.

Seek tricolored screes, squat down to sift through

fingers, this mix of amber, brown, ruby, and cream.                         

Triton: the merman, with a man’s large nose and the lower body a fish,

this son of Poseidon, who toot-toots and tells tall riveting, rivering tales.


The poem tells of walks with my grandmother, then of Devil’s Hole which frightened me as a teen.  Then Colored Sands which may not be there anymore – then of ancient tales, of Poseidon, god  of the sea, and his son Triton, the male equivalent of a mermaid. 


I hope to receive some river poems: suebrannanwalker@me.com

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