We lived on the truck route 100 that ran parallel to the railroad tracks that ran next to the ledges
and then crossed them in a leap of bold black trestle. In memory it was the trestle not the ledges
which was too large to be real . It was a black, shabby shadow of a childhood dream of dominance
while the ledges unfurled and then swallowed my all too adult pretensions to some desperate bid for control.
The bridge to the other side pulled me back from the matrix of the ravine where the roots curled
and rippled around the rock with the springs of heavy water that flowed from between sandstone layers.
The Grand River was really a back water there behind the dam that squatted beneath the walls
above the path that ran from the State Park to the ball park and the eight or ten blocks
of small town office buildings, stores and the lone movie theater cum community players.
Even as children we knew we were lucky to live in this wondrous place of nature
while I was always afraid that memory was more than what actually existed.
When after a whole adult life time I finally manage to rent a vehicle and find my way back
to that home town from which I was ripped so young it was like a descent into birth itself
as if my adult obsession with the process of creativity began in the mystery of the ledges.
The huge sculptures ground out by the water eking its way out of the rock, the caves and hollow shadows
In the striations of the stone, the roots of the huge trunks clinging to the grainy walls, the brown, green river
a primordial sink where it all came from and to which it all returned were their own image of birth and death.
Here was where I really began and here was where I always come back to, too. We did not want to leave and
so had never really left: the sky a narrow alley between the cliffs, the river a dreamy landscape barely able to move,
the present world as it had always been somewhere beneath the tracts of homes that had sprung up in 50 suburban
the Heart was still beneath it all flowing up from the water table to refresh us all with beneficence, it circled out in the old
that ran so clear into the cloudy river and its rhythm , its beat pulsed through the deep black mucky earth and up through
and arches of the feet. It was there in the arches of the leaves and the banded curve of the rock and still shadows of the
Oh, let me stay here always and never have to move again.
No wonder where ever I was pushed and forced to travel
on an on again and again I find I am always back here once more
in this incredible place I never left.
My roots are anchored in the stone.
My limbs are fed by this spring.
My blood pulses with its striated veins.
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.