There he was, Archibald Walker, like every mornin standin on the riverbank starin across the water as the sun began to rise. He would just stand there with his lunch pal in one hand and that funny bowlers hat in the other. That boy always had a big ol’ grin stretchin across his face from ear to ear. Archibald Walker the third was actually his name. A college boy from down south, he came from ol’ money. You’da never knew though. He came up here to escape he said. I had always wondered why anyone in their right mind would give up money and education to come be a logger, but there was Archibald just starin across that river as happy as a peach. I used to ask him what he learned down there in school and he would always reply the same way, “Good Jokes”. I never could tell if he was being serious or if he just didn’t care too much to talk about it. Archibald was real good at his job though for being a college boy. Came in before everyone else and worked ten times as hard. Never did see him ***** up either.
He liked to keep to himself. I was the only one he ever really talked to and even then he never talked about much. Took me a year and a half just to figure out he was educated and from money. I looked at that boy funny for a week after he told me that. I was dumbfounded as to why someone would give that up for this gruelin job. Funny thing is, he seemed to like it. He had to clear up logjams and keep the wood flowin smoothly down the river. Boy was he fast. He would skip across them floatin logs like he was walkin on dry land. There he’d go just a bouncin up and down across them logs, big smile across that baby face, with that funny lookin bowlers hat on. He always had on that goofy thing. Looked like someone had glued a bowl onto a plank’a wood. I asked him why he liked wearin it so much one day and he just laughed and said, “Now what makes you think I like wearing it”. Still don’t know what that boy meant, but I never took to tryin to understand him.
Everybody called him Walker cause he walked across them logs all day and it was his last name I suppose, but mostly cause he loved walkin them logs. It was a dangerous job, but he never hesitated to go runnin out there with his push pole and clear the jam. I told him to be real careful what logs he pushed outta the way cause if he got the wrong one, well he would end up crushed out there between two of those god-awful things. He told me we all end up stuck between two pieces of wood in the end anyhow, so he didn’t care. Boy shoulda listened. Wasn’t a week later he went walkin out on them logs, smile and all, and wouldn’t you know it he sliped, got crushed between two big ole trees then sank all the way to the bottom of that river.
We searched the river for three days and never did find Archibald’s body. It was sad to see that boy cut down so young. We hired a new boy about a week later and he wasn’t half the walker Archibald was. He wasn’t even a walker. Nicknamed that boy crawler cause he was so scared of them logs he would lay down on his belly and crawl out there to fix a jam. Three separate occasions we picked him up a mile down the river clingin to a log for dear life. Boy was something else. Needless to say we let him go down the river the fourth time and politely told him to not come back. Symbolic in away. Archibald got taken by the river and that’s how we let crawler know he was fired. Just let it carry him away until he finally reached the bank a mile or so down river.
I finally took Archibald’s post after we couldn’t find anyone to replace him. I won’t lie I was scared at first, but then I remembered what Archibald had told me about all of us endin up stuck between two pieces of wood in the end. I figured he was right so I would just go boundin across them logs day in and out just like he woulda. I still didn’t know why that boy was always happy. Even though I did the job, I still hated it. For a while anyway.
One day I came in about the same time Archibald used to and I stood there on the edge of the river and watched the sun come up. I knew why he was so happy all the time. Boy it was the most beautiful thing seein that sun comin up. It was like for a second the world was just explodin with life. I’m not sure what it’s like to have money and be educated, but I’m sure it’s nothing close to watchin that sun come up like that over the river. Wouldn’t ya know it though when the sun was done risin and I was about to finally get to work there was that goofy hat of Archibald’s washed up on the bank. It was a little soggy but not in bad shape. It was like that boy knew I was gonna be there and had just left it for me. That hat didn’t fit to well and it looked awfully funny, but I wore it everyday I went walkin them logs. Now I start everyday like Archibald did, standin on that riverbank with my lunch pal in one had and that bowler hat in the other watchin the sun come up. Still don’t know why that boy wore the thing, but I’m glad he did.
I know it's not a poem, but i still decided to share it.