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Join The Dillydoun Review in celebrating National Poetry Month with

A Poem by Nathan Robert Cox

She heard him sing by the water,
Not knowing that the songs he sang were his own;
He sang of the river, its torments, its dark allure;
And what he sang came to pass.

These days
No one dares say his name:
That boy who drowned,
That tramp,
That filthy lad,
The one who stole and swore and spat.
Stolid aldermen shake their heads—
Now just as then—
And yet there are men who gather beside the rough waters
Trying not to remember him
Whose corpse still floats so near their feet.
Brambled crowns weaved in their flaxen hair—
In lieu of laurel’d orbit—
For there are no triumphal days along these muddy banks.
Trembling hands
Pocketed away in shame
Because
At first, they could not hold the ropes;
At last, because they could.

A feral cry
Silences the forest—
The girl remembers him as he once was,
Naked at dusk,
By the river,
Launching his boat,
Which looked like paper in the twilight,
As it slipped into the current…

In the gloaming,
A flock flies
As shadows pour down
And fill the spaces
From which they
Alighted.
She closes her eyes,
Sighs,
And whistles a plaintive song,

A song she learnt from him
So many years ago,
Concealed in the penumbra of these woods,
Riverside.


Nathan Robert Cox lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is an adjunct professor of philosophy. He received his B.A. in philosophy at the University of Tennessee and both his M.A. & Ph.D. at the University of Kansas. His specialty is early modern philosophy, especially the work of David Hume, Spinoza, and Kant. He teaches at Pellissippi State Community College and Thomas Edison State University.

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