Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Waterwitching (For Papa)

Tracy M. Rogers

His withered hands trembled
held the red maple limb
in their frail grasp

They clasped and reclasped
the rough bark
making his swollen knuckles white

They came to him
because they knew
he had the gift

No one could explain
that magical divining
of the earth's rigid layers

Not even he could understand
the vibrations, the melody
that called to him from beneath his feet


He had been born
in the sweltering heat
of late June 1916

A pale, almost sallow baby
with wavy black hair
and eyes the color of smoked almonds

But, in his laughter, his tears,
in the grasp of his warm palm
lay the answers to ancient mysteries

In the measured rhythm
of his too-kind heart
lay the earth's febrile cadence

Only he, among all of his siblings,
heard the water's ever-elusive psalm
whispering to him from beneath the red clay


And, so they came for him
first, in wagons and on horseback,
then in sputtering Fords and Chevrolets

Kicking up red dust
in the War Eagle valley
that had once been lush and green

Searching for the tiniest river
beneath the earth's surface
to water their horses and their children

And he would go readily
his divining stick in hand
along the red clay roads over the Ozarks

And search well into the night
listening to the earth gasp and sigh
until it finally revealed the secrets hidden in its depths


Tracy M. Rogers is the editor and creator of The Aurora Review: An Eclectic Literary and Cultural Magazine. Her poetry can be found in The Poetry Kit, Prism, and Mastodon Dentist, as well as in upcoming issues of Poesia, The Wandering Hermit Review, and The Pen. She is also an avid photographer whose photos have been published in Spire, The New Yinzer, and Sien und Werden.

© Tracy M. Rogers

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012