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Tony Gentry

Prodigal’s Return: A Poem

Updated: May 17

The little pond back in the woods was my Walden before I’d ever heard of Thoreau.

I’d wander there to skip a rock sit ponder let its shimmer me.

Back home now things are rotten.

The old feed store the depot the cannery even the yellow caboose Old Man White hauled off the tracks its roof agape to the sky.

Leaving daffodils for Mama and Grandma walked the cemetery where all my old Sunday School teachers lie beside my brother my childhood best friend Steve, Daddy, Uncle Jack, and the rest.

The tombstones like books on a shelf each one a story only those still walking can tell. Each a volume of local lore in a collection gone to seed.

I left there in tears then found myself walking the overgrown path that once was the railroad bed back down to what I hoped was still my pond.

Jumped a fence fought through brush to a clearing where it lay exactly as always


in its ragged collar of pines. A tree down in a circle of sawdust chips very recently gnawed by beavers and the dam look how the creek had worked its way around begun to empty out until the beavers came in the pond’s abandonment to make the necessary repairs — their lodge a patch that saved it all.

So I sat again for as long as it took for my cheeks to dry left with a rock in my pocket and a lesson I think

that some things can last yet to plug home and hearth into water requires a beaver’s attention the hard work of teeth and heart and yes you pick your battles but now’s the time to start.

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