Jeremy Michael Reed
THE TENNESSEE RIVER
colored as coffee with creamer,
begun black, mud run, silted,
like my grandmother takes hers.
My soul runs deep here. Stilted
footsteps carry me over bridges
as the day after storm lilted
back to me my history. Ridges
line the hills around the city,
make space for river water. Barges
traverse slowly this, the Tennessee,
as it seeps southward, west, north,
then back. I see from Gay Street
all my family's known from birth,
the slips of speech, slid vowels,
all stemming from a southern source.
The French Broad and Holston run afoul,
combine to create a kind of churning,
like the turn from a steamboat's bowels
shifting paddles under bridges, past vining,
past running, past searching, past finding.
Jeremy Michael Reed is a PhD student in English-Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee. His poems are published or forthcoming in Red Paint Hill, Still: the Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. More of his work can be found online at jeremymichaelreed.com.