Why We Narrow Our Eyes at the Rivers

by | Dec 4, 2019 | Poetry

The flood warnings closed the schools
on the very first day of classes. We parents
took to our sturdiest cars to retrieve them
in pairs and groups, before the roads closed.
As we took the turns in hisses and roars,
the girls leaned to the windows, agape
and laughing at the muddy swells and the lap
of the river touching pavement, past the gravel,
under the guard rails and into the troughs
worn tire-wide and predictable as eroded paths do.
They gasped at a tree down, wished well
a gathering of cows beneath a tree in a field
growing soggier with the minutes,
quieted at the site of RVs window-deep
in rippling mud. All seniors, in the first
days of their last year, all women now
with questions that had answers we knew
but did not yet know how to share. The world
frothed around us all, sweeping away
the small things, undoing the banks
holding up the road, carving something
new but yet unseen. How much water
would have to move, how much ground
would have to dry, how a sky would
have to shed its weight and welcome sun
and whatever new shape of earth was left
at some point. They sang to the songs
we played to drown out the road noise.
They texted their parents to let them know
that now, that soon, they were on their way.

Photo used under CC.

About The Author


Gabriel Welsch is the author of four collection of poems, most recently The Four Horsepersons of a Disappointing Apocalypse (Steel Toe Books, 2013). His work appears recently or will appear in Ploughshares, Moon City Review, Adroit Journal, Gulf Coast, Crab Orchard Review, Chautauqua, Pembroke Review, Tahoma Literary Review, and Mid-American Review. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his family, and works as vice president of marketing and communications at Duquesne University. He occasionally teaches at the Chautauqua Writer’s Center.