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Poem July 2023

Clay Banks

The creek is old and its banks are steep.

Its flow never stops its work of remaking.

Clay like this wants to keep its form

though scoured by the storm-carried silt,

pitted as by earthbound lightning strikes.

Water is turned by jutting granite,

milky quartz, even soft sandstone,

all of it red with rust going green

as first the ferns unroll their fronds

and vines tease the air with soft thorns

the way childhood returns in old age.


A friend told me how his mother, who

is now constantly looking for her home,

who can’t recognize him or his sister,

was happy to play ball with his toddler,

with his new puppy. She tossed the ball

against the brick patio wall with a spin.

The dog and child ran with confused joy.

Sometimes they fell over each other.

His mother always caught the ball.

She was the only one who seemed to know

exactly where the ball would bounce.

— Paul Jones

Paul Jones is a professor emeritus at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His latest collection of poetry is called Something Wonderful.