Image by Adam Bouse

ROOTS

the madrigal, volume ii

Gazing Waterward

by andre peltier

I
It was up north
when I was
younger.
We lived on a bluff
overlooking the bay.
From our deck
everyone said
“What a nice view you have,
you must
gaze
for hours at the
water.”
We watched silently
the sailboats.
We reached back and
cast our gaze
waterward
like fishermen
and we saw freighters
come and go
talking of the cement plant
day and night.
The plant is gone now;
morphed
into something shiny
and new.
Watching the sails
like Columbus and
Captain Kidd.
Semaphore signals to
the shoreline.
Over the wide
expanse of land,
over the trees
over the highway
we gazed for hours
and it was ours;
lake and rocky coast,
day and night,
ours forever
from the top of that
hill.

II
In the lazy long hours
of the afternoon sun,
we rode down the hill
to follow the stream
to the falls
and out into the bay.
Left and right, all paths
lead us waterward.
We knew not
leaches
nor the rushing cars
overhead
as we crouched
under the road,
through the culvert,
tunneling,
tunneling like moles
like ants to a picnic.
Michigan was our swimming
hole.
There we were naked
and free.
Free
like Tom and Huck,
free like Jim.
People would ask
what we did there,
but we couldn’t say.
We could not stay.
It was invisible
from the top of the hill,
seen and unseen,
unseen and unknown.
No one could take it from us.
We were connected to
Niagara
and the seas.
We knew this stream,
shallow and
thoughtless,
was young like us.

Andre F. Peltier is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he has taught African American Literature, Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, Poetry, and Freshman Composition since 1998. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife, children, turtles, dog, and cat. His poetry has appeared in Big Whoopie Deal, In Parentheses, Griffel Magazine, Fahmidan Journal, The Write Launch, Spillover Mag, and Tofu Ink and is forthcoming in The Great Lakes Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Prospectus, C*nsorship Mag, Melbourne Culture Corner, Openwork Magazine, The JFA Human Rights Journal, Sledgehammer, and an anthology from Quillkeepers Press. In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books.
Twitter: @aandrefpeltier