Shooting Creek
by Cy Dillon


Charlie Poole wouldn't know it now
With Moran's and all those other
Frame houses by the road burned and gone
One or two still stand empty
Behind the wild growth of neglect

The tamed music of the place
Comes only from falling water
Or calls of forest birds
There's not a banjo or fiddle
To be heard in the gorge today
And over-sprung Fords
Once so loud and envied
Rust quietly in weeds
Tall as a draft horse

Summerhouses and a few secluded farms
Lie quiet in the shadows of coves
Bare earth yards
Worn by the bare feet of generations
Gone under layers of oak and poplar leaves
Here and there an overgrown wall
Bears witness in an unexpected place
To growing corn and erosion
Cutting every stick that would saw or burn
Until the ground was worn smooth as a puncheon floor

But the hard living only made music sweeter
White liquor more intoxicating
Even my Grandfather admitted to hauling a load or two from there
Cruising for pulpwood across the state
When tires and gas were rationed but thirst was unrestrained
He never could quite tell me why
This narrow gorge in the escarpment's face was so memorable
The light in his eye was the only hint of what he felt

What is there to say about the persistence of human joy
Where none should be
The quiet beauty of a resurgent forest
Sad and empty as a forgotten song







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