The Language of Landscape

River of Words, part of Saint Mary’s Center for Environmental Literacy at the Kalmanovitz School of Education, celebrated the creativity of children around the world at the 18th Annual Youth Creativity Awards in San Francisco on April 21, 2013. River of Words encourages young people to explore and savor the watersheds where they live and trains educators to guide them with inspiration and passion. Read more about River of WordsView more River of Words artworkSee photos from the ceremony.

River of Words Poetry Grand Prize Winner
Category IV (Grades 10-12)

City Without an Ark

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

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