(This poem is actually about the Eel River in Clay County, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to submit it. I also don’t live in Vigo County anymore, but I wanted to participate anyway.)
There is poetry in this river.
Ghosts of spoken word, dating back to the time when open mics were voices of Piankeshaw Indians echoing in wide open banks, are still whispering in the current that trickles over fallen logs.
When the river’s low in the summer, metaphors in mussel shells wash up on the sandbar, and I can pick them up to draw inspiration from their pearly sheen.
Each grain of sand is part of someone’s footprints. They snuggled together in the tracks of raccoons grasping at minnows. They lay behind Daniel Harris as he forged new trails along the river with his Indian guide. And the river continues to push these grains of sand, rolling them little by little under the skeleton of a trestle that once carried the Evansville and Indianapolis Railroad over its waters. The passengers and their baggage fade away like the decaying concrete pylons, but the thick-trunked trees that flank the bank can still remember the roar of steam engines, and they try to recite the engineers’ verses in the leaves they drop each fall.
There is poetry in this river. Sometimes the only ones to hear it are the catfish and the water striders, but sometimes it can be heard by children swimming under Feeder Dam Bridge, if they listen closely to the splashes they make, because they’re the same splashes made by pioneer children when the bridge was new and horse hooves clip-clopped above.
Rusty language of farmers who plowed the land flakes from the steel I-beams and falls into the river below as evidence they once crossed here. They wove their literary works into fields of corn and wheat on both sides, and they built limericks as they built levees to protect them.
There is poetry in this river. People paddle through in haiku canoes and each person has a verse or two.
Fishermen reel in lines of rhyme that flow through the mud veins of catfish who filter it off the bottom.
Poetry is in this river, and it winds through Clay County. It serves as inspiration for the country folk who wade in and take the time to listen, for they are leaving their poems in the river, too.