Deep Creek to Albemarle Sound

This story poem is dedicated to my muse RLF and her mother Ginny.

as I stand on what is known as
Elizabeth’s Dock…..   just south of    ~
the Deep Creek Lock
a part of the Dismal Swamp Canal System
called by some in times past…. “The Ditches
my muse walks along the dock
behind me
at times struggling
to keep her balance
for reasons I won’t disclose
about her health
but her efforts inspire me
this little place    ~
she has honored me to visit
is the land of her roots
you see…..   Deep Creek
is where her mother
and her mother’s family are from

I now will help you
better understand
the backdrop
that frames the words
of this story poem
I emotively write……

Chesapeake Virginia 

on this day
as I look south towards
Albemarle Sound in North Carolina
I notice the weathered handrail
on the landside of the dock
the big nails used to hold it together
are like a directional pointer
to the historical information……
a really dismal era
of my country’s past
the tannic colored waters of the canal
symbolically stained
with the blood   ~
and tears
of my fellow humans
whose evil experience
if evil is a definition of the heavens
the wicked
and senseless defamation
imposed on our own species
to waller in the mud like pigs
up to their necks
to dig a so-called ditch
one scoop at a time
where such mud was not washed off
‘cause they had no blankets
to keep them warm at night
in the horrid Dismal Swamp
or to keep the elements off from them
as described later
by the slave and canal boat handler
Moses Grandy
in his “Narrative
Of the Life Of
Moses Grandy;
Late A Slave
In The
United States Of America
what a Man
a Hell of a Human Being
who was ripped off
lied to
watched wife and children
taken away
had to pay for his freedom
3 times……
before he was given it

such recollections
make my knees feel weak
make my stomach feel sick
I suddenly feel ashamed
for being human
and yet
the noble example
of the struggle of my muse
behind me
keeps me standing
instills a will in me
to keep going
have hope
in the human ability
of learning from our mistakes
to push on
for the future of our children
and their children’s children
regardless   ~
the color of their skin

let me stop here
I need to make something clear
about this place I stand
despite the melancholy
that surrounds its tannic
and dismal swamp past
that past
is no longer its present…..

because of those like my muse
which started with her mother
and her mother’s family
before her
I now see a beauty
to the positive outlook
of the onlooker
and a canal
that borders a swamp
called Dismal
I hope to travel
explore its full landscape
from Deep Creek to Albemarle Sound
the twists and turns
the ditch leading to lake Drummond
and its waters that feed the canal
learn more how the swamp
became part
of the Underground Railroad
when Robert Frost
aimlessly wandered it
‘cause he was heartbroken
over a woman
how it inspired
Edna Ferber to write Show Boat
by reliving the journey of   ~
the James Adams Floating Theater
back and forth
along the Dismal Swamp Canal

yes….   I want to do this all
with my muse some day
out of respect for her struggle
her mother
and her mother’s family
as well as those
my fellow humans
through blood  ~
and tears
who built its past
and whose efforts
have shaped its present

Image & Words by    ~Keith Alan Hamilton~

This story poem will be a part of the May edition that’s a collaboration by the 2015 Poetry Posse  – The Year of the Poet II published by Inner Child Press.  Buy your monthly copy Here:

All Words & Images Copyright © 1999-2021 - Keith Alan Hamilton - All rights reserved.