Along the Mississippi we listened to jazz, 

Photo by Mathew Benoit / Unsplash

by Connor Donovan

Along the Mississippi we listened to jazz, 
waltzed the nightlife in worship. There, we 
found we could love absolutely, losing our 
tears in the rain; one for us, two for the river. 
Outside a Greek restaurant, my mother 
pointed to the China roses spooning the 
walkway. We had eaten what was left of our 
amusement along with artichoke hearts & 
spanakopita. I was born to the Schuylkill, 
not the Mississippi. I grew up learning 
backyard barbeque, ripstiking skinned 
knees, & crushing on the neighbor so many 
houses down I forgot I was still home. I left 
at twenty-two because I felt buried with all 
the other noise that is lost when it has been 
in the water too long. Away, I disguised my
pride in a culture that was not mine—ate 
crawfish by the fistful, boiled my silence in 
cajun seasoning, & used my hands to create 
a sort of sanctuary. Tell me of a time you 
lost what it means to recognize your own 
likeness & I’ll try explaining to you how it 
feels to reach for a rose stem, thorns & all, 
closing your eyes & seeing your home like 
it’s all you’ve ever known. Some things are 
so small that when left, they cease to exist. 
This has never been one of those things. 

Born and raised in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Connor Donovan is currently a teacher residing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is a Swim Press Ekphrasis Contest poetry winner and his work can be found in Stone of Madness, Free the Verse, and Blue Marble Review, among others.