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Shuckswitch Road

June 28, 2008

The summer I turned six,
The Mississippi
Flooded our farm,
Following us to the second
Story. The third night
We got out by boat,
Oaring off in a slant

Of rain, leaving the car,
The burley crop, the chickens,
The family Bible,
And the house like a girl
Waist-high in water,
White skirts wavering
On its surface.

The neighbors on King’s Hill
Had coffee and quilts, holding
Them out like hands. Inside,
There was a fire, feather
Pillows; the cat had her kittens.
Their mewling soprano
Sang me to sleep. And later,

In fever, I dreamed
The dream I still have
When it rains: a country
Of sand, drought; camels;
Children, the tender swelling
Of their bones; small streams
Struggling into current.

by Pamela Johnson Parker

Read by Beth Adams — Download the MP3

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  1. Jo
    June 28, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Beautiful.

  2. June 28, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    What a gorgeous poem.

  3. June 29, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Vivid and immediate – a fine sense of time and place.

  4. Christina Pacosz
    June 29, 2008 at 11:07 am

    A timely poem. The Mississippi is once again flooding farming communities along its sandbagged banks. And now the Illinois River. I love the image of the house like a girl waist high in the water. I can imagine that after experiencing such a terror one would dream dreams of sand and a dry land and of rivulets of water growing larger by the minute. Ominous.

  5. July 10, 2008 at 9:22 am

    This poem sucked me in. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Wonderful images.

  6. September 4, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I still love this poem, every time I read it- let me read it again and again. Congratulations on the recognition of your chapbook, Pamela, well deserved recognition, I’m absolutely certain.

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