{{ contest.story_page_sticky_bar_text }} Be the first to recommend this story.
Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

0
Free copy left
You can read our best books
ErinEph would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

Swing Low, Old Man

By ErinEph All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Drama

...

I am a person of rivers, of earth and reeds and boats from storybooks passing by in a single direction, flowing swiftly through the passing water. I am a person of a river’s direction, from the place where it is birthed by streams and split easily by saplings, to its confluence, a mile wide and choked with whirlpools spinning deeper into themselves and outwards, downstream again, all the way to the delta that reeks amphibious and shimmers with spilled diesel fuel.

There’s poetry in rivers, in the romance of their names. The sigh in the river Ohio, meandering through the corruptions visited upon it by the chemical plants, tire factories, and waste treatment centers that pay money to Appalachian states for the privilege of poisoning their inhabitants. The stalwart breadth of the Missouri, formed by ice ages and forded by pioneers, taking its tribute in their animals, possessions, and children. The silver banner of the Rio Grande, a far more poignant symbol of patriotism and the American dream than any flag-draped high school football stadium in any county of Texas. The twists and turns sung for the mnemonic device of the Mississippi, the biggest, the muddiest, the grandfather of them all that both nestled and laid its fishbelly waste to the city of my birth.

An ocean is deliverance but a river can breathe. It continues to run, to overflow, to laugh at the dams, bridges, and barge captains trusted to control it, and when it heaves up its gifts, washes them up on shores of mangrove tangles or brick slopes slapped into place during drought seasons, it is forgiven. It’s offerings are whole trees hurled downstream after twisters, blind catfish the size of refrigerators, weapons, toys, a piece of a now defunct waterpark slide and sometimes bodies, so many bodies, riddled with bullets or entombed in the trunks of drowned cars or sometimes just soaked through, lungs rotted into sludge become food for mutated crustaceans.

When I was maybe six, my grandmother took me on a riverboat cruise. Standing at the railing near the paddlewheel, I watched white-bellied dead fish float past as I sucked orange soda through a straw and said to her, “Imagine all the dead bodies in there.”

Her reply was non-commital and, looking back, probably a little bit scared.

I am still awed by the grand scale of seas and terrified by the thought of standing atop the crushing height of Victoria Falls, and I admit that there is a cold loveliness to the depth of Puget Sound, a briny waft stealing through downtown streets up from the scalloped bay that drops suddenly into an ink-dark cloak for families of whales.

But it is rivers that I know most intimately, and their loam that I smell when I go home in my dreams. I squeeze their clay through my fists and still worry at their levels in late spring. I am here, alive, and my skin and hair know the sting of saltwater fog, but already, some form of my body rides the river currents, mute and staring, critters nibbling as I drift past.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, ErinEph
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

Swostika Ghimire: Seriously, now I am in love with this story.This story is making me crazy. Beginning was awesome and ending is mind blowing.I loved all the characters of this story. Thankgod I found this story here. I was about to be crazy eating for updates in wattpad.And mostly I appreciate author of this stor...

ernbelle: When I first started this story I was a little unsettled by all of the information that appears in the prologue, and wasn't sure if I would continue. However, I am very glad I did. The plot was very well thought out and really interesting. There were not any page breaks or markers to acknowledge ...

ElusiveBadwolf: This book was so beautiful to read. I loved how Lizzy was finishing Hayden's list off for he self couldn't complete it and now she is learning to move on. In the end i cried, because i couldn't think about moving on if i was in her position. And how she had forgiven him by not being there with he...

PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...

zoheusher20: What more can I say? The writing style and little details drew me into the book and for the entirety of the story I was Juliet. I felt her turmoil and emotions and every trouble or triumph as they arrived. This story was very different and had quite a few little but unexpected twists that made it...

Laraine Smith: My only suggestion on the grammar is to use www.grammarcheck.net. I have it bookmarked on Google Chrome. I see myself in the determination in this beautiful story! I have Cerebral Palsy, and I have dreams that I have been working hard for, too! The humor made me laugh!

OpheliaJones: This story took a different kind of spin on the "normal girl lives with definitely not normal guy" plot. The plot points of Frey's father, Liam's family, and Frey's view of Liam's world were good to read. She did not fall in love with him in the first couple weeks. Their lives were not smooth in ...

ianwatson: The comedy is original and genuinely funny, I have laughed out loud many times reading this book. But the story and the plot are also really engaging. The opening two or three chapters seem quite character-dense but they all soon come to life and there is no padding, filling or wasted time readin...

ryder: This is an excellent read. From beginning to end the author showed his creative and imaginative writing skills. Twists and turns, surprises, humor, and sorrow: This book has it all. I strongly recommend this book, and I am already recommending it to my friends.

More Recommendations

jessiehs: This was absolutely amazing. I loved how it went back and forth between perspectives. I actually cried at the end I was so happy. This was amazing. I can't even think of another word to describe it. Thank you for writing his.

Dessie Williams: loved the book. the plot the characters all just great.I think it's a must read. once you start this book it's hard to put down. hope it gets published....I think this book is a must read.great job!!!!

evanhoverly: I absolutely loved this book and the characters in it. The story would often introduce unexpected events keeping it interesting.The book could use a good proofreading before it gets published, but otherwise a good read!

Althea Kerr: This is a tale that is all too familiar to South African readers having lived through a war era on our borders and beyond. It is obviously autobiographical as the mind under duress is so detailed and real. It has fantastic suspense if a bit disjointed - perhaps that is the fear and loneliness com...

dd1226: I love reading about other countries and I think this story about Cambodia after Polpot creates awareness of the tragedy that happened there and the actions of the U.N. to hold elections. The heroine of the story is easy to relate to, a modern, middleaged woman looking for an adventure, wanting t...

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.