We had always lived here,
Near the river,
Where the rapid rush and flow
of water dashing over
the rocks was a constant sound,
As soothing at night as a lullaby.
None of us ever
feared the river
where we played
along the riverbank,
watching turtles sun themselves
on rocks and occasionally
spying a water moccasin
lift its head out of the water
to stare back at us.
The shoreline as strong and
filled with brambles and bushes
where blackberries grew
in wild profusion;
We’d pick bucketsful for mama
to make cobblers and jam.
I had never known fear of the river;
it was a constant companion–
Until one night when it began to rain
Heavy, drenching, pouring rain,
rain that saturated the ground
and continued to pour down,
day and night, with little let up.
Soon the river began to rise
while the rushing waters
The banks became covered
and all the bushes and brambles
disappeared into the muddy water.
Daily, mama and my brother Joey
and I watched the water rise
until it reached over our front porch
and mama said we had to go.
I stuffed all I could, my clothing and
books and old photos of mama’s
into an old suitcase and we drove
away from the river,
to stay with mama’s cousin, Beulah,
who lived some miles away,
high above the town and the rushing river.
The river reached flood stage and most of
the downtown stores were underwater.
Weeks passed before we could return home,
but when we reached our property, nothing
was there. The house and bushes and brambles
had all been washed away, and all I could see
as we looked around was a big old turtle
sitting on a rock. I think he was smiling as if
to say when everything else is gone, I’ll still
Sandra Lee Smith
originally posted June 8, 2009
Updated July 31, 2018