2013 River of Words Poetry Grand Prize Winner

Category IV (Grades 9-12)

No one remembers the ruins under the river.
Red chalk roads, shanties, twisted trees;
1927 and we were a patchwork of corn and cotton
When the grudges of past Augusts
Brought Alabama to its knees
And the government bought our valley,
And built up the spillways, the grand-savior dam
And the city without an ark moved to a city up on a hill.

The old town, it’s still there, he tells me
(Cast, wait, reel)
Fell out of the boat once and there it was, a little worse for wear.
Waved to old Clem at the drug store,
Old coot breathed bubbles and asked if I wanted a malt
My grandfather smiles at me, gets a bite.
I look at the black water, and it looks back at me.

Sara Jane Kachelman, age 17
Florence, Alabama
Submitted independently