All rivers lead me back

All rivers lead me back to this one;

This one who’s song I heard first

And still feel its ache coating

Tangipahoa River, Ponchatoula, LA, my summer home

My bones with an ageless

Truth that a time comes to let things go

Just as passionate as when we held onto it

At the initial meeting, the love sounding

Like a drum in beating hearts.

All rivers lead me back to this one;

The Tangipahoa River, my childhood still

Left behind in the veins of her current

And the restless gurgle of her surf

Licking the willowed bank.

Here and there, a Loon, or a

Bullfrog, croaking the balance

Of dusk and dawn into innocent play,

Its sweet taste still lingering in my mouth,

Poking my soul to rip and tear,

And finally to stir with remembrance

That a river, any river, can lead us

Either away or towards the things that

Once mattered so dear.

It’s the unraveling sorrow that lies deep

In her shallows and hidden depths when

Your back is turned forever to whispers never

Before acknowledged, and, to this day,

When that river calls, its echo

Is the only sound that is left

                   to answer.


© Susan Joyner-Stumpf

Tangipahoa River, Ponchatoula, LA, my summer home
  1. AWESOME BRAVO SUSAN.. love this one.. when that river calls… I can relate… I lived beside a river off of Hwy 26 in Columbia SC when I was a teenager.. we loved it all of us kids. we were always at the river or Lake Murray… Now I am by the ocean.. which I am in love with.. really enjoyed your poem Susan as always.

  2. drtruthman says:

    Very sweet and beautiful but simple poem about a time most of us can reflect on. I too remember time spent on Lake Okeechobee, the Tamiami Trail Canal, FL Everglades or any number of South Florida beaches. it was so wonderful, so meaningful and a delight with friends or family. Thank you for this trip down memory lane. Although the memories are clearly yours they send me on a path which leads to mine. Wonderful job.

  3. Thanks Deb and Lee. I remember now how you both told me you grew up around water as well, so you know the special meaning that even a River can hold. I have written at least half a dozen poems and short stories centered about the Tangipohoa River which was a part of my life for almost thirty years. And wow, Lee, I forgot you grew up around the Everglades, that must be so beautiful. I watch the Travel Show because I know there are places I would never see otherwise in this lifetime, LOL, so, at least I can see Wild Russia; the Florida Everglades; the Andes Mountains, the Himalayas; the Black Forest of Germany where my biological father was from; Switzerland where my biological mother is from;, Innsbruck, Austria which is gorgeous and quaint; Lake Como in Italy; coastal areas of France; London and Liverpool where the Beatles are from, or the Giza Lines in Peru. Those are all on my Bucket List, and some other places, but I doubt in this lifetime I will be able to visit them all, if even one of them. And I love the Ocean too. I grew up in New Orleans and the Gulf in Mississpi was our backyard, our playgroud and we went to Florida at least three to four times a year, the regular hot spots like Pensicola, Navarre Beach, Miami, etc. I have been to Mexcio, Guatamal, and Nassau, Bahamas.

    Then on my foster father’s side, twice a year we’d go up to the coastal North Carolina where he grew up as a boy in a home across the street from the Atlantic Ocean, so, those memories are equally special. I love water and I miss it, for Colorado is mostly mountains and desert and bodies of water, unless you get more northern where there are beautiul lakes up in the mountains, I don’t get to see it that much. I live without walking distance of a 100-acre Reservoir but it’s not the same.

    Thank you both for your endless support, it means a lot to me. I hope I do as much for the both of you as you have unconditionally done for me.

    Much love and respect.

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