Erik Nelson: Crossing Willow Creek (parts 1-4)


Part One: Unshakable Shadows

For want of things needful, men cry;

The ancient springs have all run dry.

For flowing brooks, the people pine;

Each time they look, they see a sign.


The sons and daughters of song sing low,

No more replete with lust;

About the streets of sorrow they go,

About the streets of dust.


The wheel of the well is broken now;

The golden bowl is bust.

So none repeat any token vow,

For it’s too late to trust.


With hearts that pretend to have hope but sag,

They start, at the ends of their ropes, to drag

The various enchantments they take:

Shadows of dreams they can’t seem to shake.


Part Two: Over the Brook of the Willows

Failing, languishing is the vine,

So, without song, men savor wine.

Wailing, anguishing is each tribe,

Devoid of strong drink to imbibe.

The flower faileth, then drops;

The hour aileth, then stops,

But still the rook, through its bill, crows:

Over the Brook of the Willows.


Their loss they swallow and thus carry,

Across the hollow to the prairie,

Traveling heavy or light

To a place e’er out of sight,

Where wolves and bears with cattle lie

And none have heard one battle cry,

Where, in a nook, green grass still grows:

Over the Brook of the Willows.


Part Three: The Burden of the Desert of the Sea

They cannot stay but have a plan,

Though traumatized and weak;

They’ll make their way, as best they can,

Across old Willow Creek.


With their gold, silver and tears, they leave,

For nothing has grown for years;

They pack what they hold most dear and grieve

O’er the rest that disappears.


By hand and foot they carry it,

The rich by horse and chariot,

Through lands of desert seas of sand

To start all over, somewhere grand.


They chart a course to save the day,

By which they plan to travel,

To cart their junk and pave a way

To stitch dream-seams unraveled.


With spirits sunk so very low,

They’re looking for the lea;

The caravan can barely go

Across the desert sea.


Part Four: Under the Shadow of Her Wings

Through lands of fire, brimstone, distress,

The darting snake and flying dragon,

Through lands of lion and lioness,

They cart their stake, the rich by wagon,

The poor by blistered hand and foot,

With palms and soles as black as soot,

To where grass still grows free:

Beneath the willow tree.


They’re going where the sparrows sing,

Over the hills and far away,

Where no one, ever, was crowned king

Or had his fill denied each day,

Where human graveyards can’t be found,

Where none have paved the naked ground,

Where the owl shades her hatchlings

Under the shadow of her wings.


To Be Continued



Erik Nelson was born in Madison, WI, in 1974, grew up in British Columbia, Canada, as well as several states in the United States, before obtaining a Masters degree in Literary Theory from the University of Dalarna, in Falun, Sweden; he then taught English at the college level in the deep south of the United States for ten years, before moving to the high plains of Colorado, where he currently lives, lucubrates and works as a librarian.

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