“That river’ll suck you up and spit you out” poem by Steph Airth

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That river’ll suck you up and spit you out

Poem by Steph Airth

At Thanksgiving and Christmas, my dad’s company truck trundles up under a patina
of Mary Hill grit to take me back to where I’m from.

Where I’m from is oh, just an hour or so east. You probably haven’t heard of it. All
we’ve got is creeks and blueberry crops and the Fraser spooning us southside.

Where I’m from, dunk your biked-out body in icy milktea Fraser as your granddad
dips his hat, leans back dripping on the rocky bank.

Where I’m from, follow your grandmother’s hisses and cusses through blackberry
bramble, cradle bursting purples in your shirtfront. Pop drupelets like zits and
wince when their guts dribble into prickle cuts.

Where I’m from, don’t go in the house when your uncle’s there or buy your liquor
under the Haney Hotel or go down Wharf street for a while.

(But don’t unsee your uncle when he’s smoking in New Year sunshine and his toy
dog’s fizzing like a soprano Harley, either.

Wave, at least, and when he lifts his smoke back at you try not to think about how
your hands looked after the blackberries, with the purple dribble and the
thornblood.)

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