Then I stood below the pedestal of Dismal Rock
as shadows straggled up like sheep from the river.
I wanted to believe his ghost might prowl among them,
that something of his hunger might still be limping
down a faint scent trail to its end, but I could not.
Autumn lit the wicks of the leaves; the river, foaming,
garbled, recovered its voice. I did not climb
the flash-lit, switchback trail to the rockhouse.
I did not stand before the petroglyphs again
nor rake at the midden of ash below them with a stick.
I waited until the dark took everything,
but the sound of water; the spillway's troughs of stone,
the dam's think plug. I waited where the blood spoor
of local narrative intersects a trail gone cold,
and what came stalking there was not a shade, though
it moved with stealth among the sawbriars, lit by nothing.
Davis McCombs is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arkansas. He was a Park Ranger at Mammoth Cave National Park from 1991-2001.
I particularly like the feeling of barely flickering hope amid desolation in this poem.
One sad apple
5 years ago