The afternoon sun was just
beginning to burn the air.
It was the time after church,
after your Mama
has filled your belly
with a slow cooked roast, potatoes
and endless selection of vegetables
that all taste like bacon.
The time of day
when you have to move
before the sleepy threat
of a full stomach and lazy day
tells you to close your eyes.
I headed down the old dirt road,
kicking the barking dogs
from my bike tires
to meet Ashley.
Hearing the same call of adventure,
I, unsurprisingly, found her waiting,
under the towering pine
we called half way.
We hopped on our bikes,
of our daddies’ loose change,
making a game of riding,
through the same pot holes,
that our parents tried so desperately
to miss in their shiny cars.
The mirage in the distance
made it look like a silky ribbon
of new asphalt.
But we knew better,
as the vision was devoured
with the sharp teeth
of rocks and an unmaintained
patchwork of old cement
that made up the seemingly forgotten path.
When the road turned to dirt,
we fought like warriors on horseback
against washboards and quicksand
dismounting to push
when it got too thick to ride.
We headed to Ms. Betty’s
For candy cigarettes and airheads.
Heading back again,
we both wondered to ourselves
if that little piece of freedom
was worth the sweat of the dirt struggle.
We rode to the culvert that drained
to what we considered our domain;
The 400 yard ribbon of wild tomboy adventure
following the property line of Hendley’s place.
Hopping over branches and under washed out roots
ponytails and braids swinging
in a canopy of live oak trees
easily 20 times our age.
We stopped along the way to send
wax-bottomed leaf boats
with their skinny captains
down miniature currents
to empty into the Tivoli.
sandy bottomed creek bed
turned to sticky, tar like black mud
crawling with fiddler armies
waving their weapons to deter the giant
Kicking caked feet 8 times their true size,
we swam over to the low-tide, oil slick bank
of the Tivoli.
knee deep in the mud
up to the edge of the marsh.
Spreading out our bodies on the cool mud,
we slithered back down
into the piercing jabs
of a multitude of passing shrimp
on parade to our neighbor’s cast net.
An unforeseen revenge for the attack
on our tender legs.
pierces the air like a strange distress signal.
Looking over to the dock,
Hendley drops the ladder,
with a silver splash, into the river.
We ride the almost still tide on its way to the sea
To our unbidden rescue,
an unsure footing of the dock
floating on the currents of the Tivoli.
Seeing the gleam in his eye,
We follow him up the ramp to the shed
among sniffing, tickling dogs’ noses
to a 5 gallon bucket
of fresh boiled shrimp.
Filling our now empty bellies
we lay back in the grass,
staring through the specked light of a live oak.
Sitting up, we race to the tire swing
Hendley’s diminishing outside bend
of the Tivoli.
In stiff damp clothes,
itchy, salty skin,
we kick the sand,
and pat the furry heads of the dogs,
as we head back to our bikes that we
left in a heap
at the culvert.
We pedal hard,
this time alone,
and in opposite directions,
weaving to miss the pot holes and quicksand pits,
racing against the creep
of the evening
and the bite of the mosquitoes.
We return to our air conditioned houses
overlooking the marsh flats
with our families and weekly rotes
until the call of the Tivoli
the following lazy
beckons us to her muddy adventure
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I wrote this poem in the early part of this year. And you will find that it's where many of the lyrics to the song I posted a few months ago, came from. Enjoy.
Ashley and me muddin' on the Tivoli
We got to visit Ashley and her Hubby this summer in Missoula. We haven't changed much. We're still playing in the woods and in constant preparation of our next adventure. These days, they tend to be a bit further from the river we grew up on.