There is a spot on the banks of the Ohio River
where rising and falling water levels
have birthed a tree,
100 years ancient,
Whose roots burst forth
To create a cage of wood
And whatever debris it happens to net up.
There is a safe there too,
Half buried by dirt and sand,
And the rotting remains of a dock sunk long ago
laying just below the water's surface,
It's broken post still sticking out a few inches...
A forgotten ferry ramp crumbles to pebbles
just 10 yards upstream.
The concrete foundation of it's pay station
Juts out as a peninsula
when the river drops below 25 feet deep.
The City hides around the bend,
with towers that sometimes peek over the horizon,
and an ever present night-time glow
that never lets this place go absolutely dark.
There are just a handful of stars here,
Ten or 20.
Only the best and brightest,
Receding with time
To the perpetually growing presence
of fluorescent outdoor lighting.
This is a place of ages.
Of 5 year old forbidden mystery
and 8 year old epic adventures
among the apocalyptic rubble of whole city blocks,
Torn down to make way for the levee,
I've know for all my life.
This is a place of 10 year old games with childhood pals
And 15 year old parties-in-secret.
A case of double-deuces and a bottle of schnapps,
and all the other regular tools of teenage rebellion.
It's a place of countless caught catfish
during early morning hours,
When the boat traffic dies down save for giant river barges,
working their way through the locks and dams
that keep the water deep enough for commercial navigation.
My grandfather knew the white-sand beaches here
That once stretched for two solid miles,
And hosted vacationing mid-westerners
and the rebirth of Sun Worship.
His adopted father knew it even better,
working the steamers that made this place civilized.
My own father swam in these waters,
even claims he once swam all the way across and back
and I never call him on it,
though I know this place too well to believe it.
I know this place very well, to say the least.
I've been here more than often,
going way back to when the riverside road ended in a circular turnabout,
where a mostly dead old oak
held a 30 foot long steel cable,
that would swing you out over a hillside
made of broken brick and steel re-bar.
Back before the pumping station's overflow pipes were capped,
and you could echo your voice
through the outlets down by the river,
up to ears on the path along the floodwall.
I still go there,
though not as often as I once did.
It still holds wonder for me,
Magic and mystery...
It's never the same on two different days,
yet it never changes,
and when I think of home,
I think of this spot.
The Title is coordinates for the subject of the poem.