The Levee

Here is a very old and personal poem I thought was lost forever but which has in recent years resurfaced.  I originally wrote it in February 1977, at 17 years old:

Jewell says the river will bewitch you if you’re not careful
but I don’t think it’s what will have me to my knees
The levee will possess me in a while
and though I’m not a native
it will become as thought I was raised
right here on this earthen wall
Snow is so rare here
When it snows the schools close
Children slide down towards the muddy Ouachita
on cardboard and wet asses
The levee will never let them down
it watches over the town
it will see to our well-being
Jewell says I’m protected here
like a child at play
But I don’t know
insanity can occur any ‘ol where
The levee will see to it
that I don’t float away
until I’m ready
Jewell likes to walk it while the sun leaves him
He’s never walked it with me
He goes home alone and in silence
he’ll talk with his Bible
And I’ll most likely be somewhere up on the levee
following a stranger or writing poems or
singing lyrics of trials and lifetimes into the wind
Jewell loves his solitude
Uses it like his Savior
indulging in holy stories and psalms
matching each character to the roles in his mind
While I’m probably up on the levee
or hanging over the bridge
feeling this same sacred power
experiencing similar enlightenments
yet from within my own soul
Jewell says he’s a loner
He won’t let me touch him
and is afraid to touch me from a scar
that has opened and closed over and over again
Still, I know he loves me
and I know he feels more intensely than most folk
Time is the only natural fertilizer
for this collection of his, this garden
Jewell gave me a pendlem made of clay
Last night I dreamed that he hung one too, from his neck
reproduced from mine, both magical
But on awakening there was only one
it hung singular between my breasts
Perhaps he hid his under his vest
or somewhere deep inside
I went up on the levee
and sat staring at water and brush
and I found it
Jewell says when he’s on the side of the sea or
the line of the road
what he longs for at home is the river
It’s no wonder
I’ve seen his clay heart there
fully illustrated by the muddy Ouachita
Jewell says he’s crazy
He won’t listen when I tell him
we all are
I know he’s probably more sane than most folk
He pays much attention
to the sacrifices and glories of existence
Yet isolates his own from the whole
and says it’s different
and crazy
Jewell told me the river has bewitched him
Says it like I am not aware of this power
If only he could venture to the center of me
my spirit is so very close to his
and with the hands and mind of this life
I don’t think he’ll ever really know it


About Unsungpoet

Life-long poet, numerologist, author of other previously unpublished works :)
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2 Responses to The Levee

  1. Beverly Kalinin says:

    You’re not a water sign, but you seem so happy playing near the river on the levee, so carefree and young, and yet so old, deep like the water.

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