Still Serene

I stretch out my tan arms and run my fingers through my shortly cropped hair,

bleached blond from constant exposure to the summer sun.

I wriggle my toes in the sand along the embankment of the river.

A cool breeze blows through the area and my nostrils fill with the scent of fresh pine.

I look to the placid center of the flow.

A fish surfaces and blows out an air bubble.

My brother sits leaned against a pine,

skipping stones across the water creating small pools of ripples.

I close my eyes and take in my surroundings.

This is Pureness at its simplest.

I load up my kayak and tell my brother to hurry.

We paddle a half a mile downstream towards the river's raging rapids.

And even though the thunderous roar is so loud that it drowns out our conversation,

and the abundant water surrounds me and splashes me in the face,

I am still serene.

The river is my life

and its cool rushing waters flow through my veins.


These poems were written my junior year in college when I took a literature class that explored writers of the Appalachians. We read a book by Ron Rash entitled Saints at the River. This collection was inspired by the content and culture of that book.

Here is the book cover info: (taken from Google books)

When a twelve-year-old girl drowns in the Tamassee River and her body is trapped in a deep eddy, the people of the small South Carolina town that bears the river's name are thrown into the national spotlight. The girl's parents want to attempt a rescue of the body; environmentalists are convinced the rescue operation will cause permanent damage to the river and set a dangerous precedent. Torn between the two sides is Maggie Glenn, a twenty-eight-year-old newspaper photographer who grew up in the town and has been sent to document the incident. Since leaving home almost ten years ago, Maggie has done her best to avoid her father, but now, as the town's conflict opens old wounds, she finds herself revisiting the past she's fought so hard to leave behind. Meanwhile, the reporter who's accompanied her to cover the story turns out to have a painful past of his own, and one that might stand in the way of their romance.

Drawing on the same lyrical prose and strong sense of place that distinguished his award-winning first novel, One Foot in Eden, Ron Rash has written a book about the deepest human themes: the love of the land, the hold of the dead on the living, and the need to dive beneath the surface to arrive at a deeper truth.