“Chattahoochee: Songs I Never Heard till Now” by Catherine Hamrick

The rush of I-285 sweeps me awake,
like the interior call of a conch shell

with a dry ocean trapped in its pink chamber,
and I retreat to the Chattahoochee,

hidden from Atlanta traffic lurching forward,
groan by groan in the idling afternoon—

beyond rooms stacked like rabbit warrens
and the blue glow of bars where the nameless

hunch over phones, emotion-conned, hearts afire
for mint-laced mojitos sugar-muddling the day.

On Powers Island, a fisherman, with name
and number Sharpie-scrawled on his life vest,

launches a rowboat in the downstream pull;
I dabble my feet by the ripped-out roots

of a lichen-trimmed log heard by Canada geese
on its bank-hollowing fall; the sun slaps eddies,

and brown-gray plumage runs in short currents
on a gander that hooks his beak in a ripple,

stabbing and nibbling, stabbing and nibbling,
and then arching his neck and shooting up,

mate alert—his white cheek patches, like arrows,
sharply paint his ebony head and crown.

I draw a quick breath, rocked by the common grace
of a small flock, heads erect, paddling sideways

and honking, tugged southward as the fisherman casts
slow-motion lines, ambitionless to net a mess

of sun-flashed rainbow trout, lost in the songs
of bankside gurgles and rapids gushing in midstream.

Catherine Hamrick is the copywriter for a liberal arts college in North Georgia. She previously held editorial positions at Better Homes and GardensCooking LightSouthern Accents, and Meredith Books. Her poems have appeared in The Blue Mountain ReviewstorySouthTiny Seed JournalBraided WayThe Ekphrastic ReviewArt Ascent, and elsewhere.

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