April 14, 2014


I’ve taken to collecting driftwood along the river. This is because I don’t have Cable TV and therefore lack better vices, but also because I can’t get enough of the way bits of tree wash up along the banks of Mud Island in spring, everything taken in by the river north of Memphis pushed along and carried south—clumps of stubborn snow and fishing lures and broken kites, but it’s the driftwood I stop for, carrying pieces home in my arms or in bags when I think to bring one along for the purpose. 

I stop when the mood strikes, charmed by shape or texture, bending in and wondering where they came from, the branches, whether they were part of a big melt from Pittsburgh or St. Paul or tossed by a child into the river at Cape Girardeau. They break in such interesting ways, looking like birds sometimes or broken hearts. Some have been submerged too long and show dark circles of rot. Others have been made silver-gray by the sun or deeply grooved where beavers and other animals have chewed. 

My favorites, though, are nearly weightless, gone soft as old suede—despite the teeth marks, bouts of bad weather and so many turns in the river.


Photo "small driftsticks" provided by Jay Wilson via Flickr creative commons license.

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