Author’s Note: Near my house are a good many runnels and brooks. Often, they quietly suffer the shame of being impounded or bullied by the feckless construction of highways which, while useful, tend to ignore the finer vagaries of East Tennessee’s rolling landforms. I cannot be too indignant, though. For I am both creek and roadway, a paradoxical battleground silently warring upon my own landscape, hoping for the complex imprint of grace and holy rhythm.
The blond underbelly of a hawk Glints off the sun as it shifts Its southpaw grip on a winter draft
Rising up the brush-grown vales hacked, Bored, smoothed into interstate. Pavement gathers deviant heats, pours them
Where a rimland creek once purled under trees, Begging snow to its late-year breast, Laying itself down, coverlet
By whitened coverlet, slumbering Till slow, gentle crocuses sing Hymns in royal purple: Up! Waken!
Lost creeks dream fitful things: Carburetors spitting brimstone chords Loud above a suicidal bridge;
Eddies choking on effluvia; Ranks of nervous bream shadowed under Archipelagoes of detritus;
Works Progress armies, pouring brutal Concrete forms flecked with diatoms; Soot-smeared laborers wanting hope.
Even so, bound by steel culverts, Water keeps such rhythms as it can; Hawks ride on thermals where they find them.
Further down the rill, a man reads The essay of a four-stroke piston shimmy, Reads the verse of wear on a left rear tire,
Knows it like a woman’s brow furrowed, Like a raptor wing, finding heat Rising up above a hidden stream.