Back Down :: A Poem


Back Down


Last time I went back down to the river

Back down to the Old Dam

Where when the river is down and the rocks are out

They stretch almost all the way across

Thus the name, you see, no real dam there


But yeah so the last time I went

I thought to show it to my lover


That dear scene of my childhood summers


Those shallow rapids where I would cling

And hold my breath forever

While the rushing water made me feel

Like I was flying


Those brief islands of pale orange rock

Where I would be

The only kid on Earth!

(Unless my cousin was there)


Those muddy-water bathing holes

Soap-on-a-rope! Don’t forget to get

Behind the ears…


Those perfect little cat-fishing spots


I would share with my lover


But I made a grave error

Driving in on the long gravel road

And mentioned Jesus Christ to Amy

Amy is an atheist


“Do you think Christ is kind of an everyman,” I proposed

“Like we all go through the feast of friends, the betrayal,

“false accusation, unjust punishment, dire doubt,

“resurrection?” Something like that, I said

On the way down to the Old Dam


And she thought about it a quick minute

And then she started nay-saying

And she didn’t stop nay-saying

Until the Old Dam was in the rear-view mirror


And she hadn’t seen the rocks there bleaching in the sun

And she hadn’t laughed at my memories

And we had not made a new memory of that place

Except as the backdrop to a really very lucid exhortation

Against the concept of Christ as everyman


I do not believe that I once

Mentioned Jesus to Amy

Again thereafter

Though she’s gone now these many years

And I’ve not made it back down

To the river




  1. Two things that jumped out at me as very effective were the repetition of the river/Old Dam throughout and the lack of punctuation at the end. It added to the feeling of resignation and disappointment and made the poem itself feel like a river flowing.


  2. “While the rushing water made me feel like I was flying” put me right there in the moment. And I like how you described the moment the date went wrong by having them go past the old dam.


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