the Ohio


The Ohio River cuts across the top of Kentucky, flowing by Louisville (at its widest and its deepest), and capturing my attention as I stroll along just about sunset. Today this river divides Kentucky from Indiana. Yesterday this river divided free states from slave states. I see history coursing past me as I face day’s end.

This is my fifth year coming to Louisville to score Advanced Placement English Literature exams. It is a marathon of sorts: eight hours a day, seven days straight, with over a thousand other readers, and 400, 000 student booklets to slog through. We spend all those hours in a convention center, in a room the size of a soccer field, filled with tables and booklets, and living people reading and reading and reading. The hours melt together, days begin to blur, but giving each student a true and accurate score drives us on…  During the evenings I wander, both physically and mentally. My go-to stroll is along the Ohio River. This free space brings everyone together.

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My mind stops for a time. A welcome relief after all the words and images and pages I’ve turned the last days. This work we do is filling but here I let myself empty out. I stare. I forget. I walk.


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The silky water, the pastel sky, and the Fleur-de-lis decorating the iron scroll work, all add to my much needed sensory experience. Smells and colors bring me back to life and feed my soul. Here one can sense all that headed south, into the darkness, and all that we forgot. Today we stand and remember.

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As the lights emerge I know it is time to turn about, return to my hotel, and call it a day. Tomorrow we read again. Tomorrow we applaud the new.

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4 thoughts on “the Ohio

  1. I was born in Ironton, OH, just across the river from Ashland, KY. All in all a very rusted out and sad place that is beginning to revive. My ancestors settled in the area in the 1750’s, so I still feel connected in a deep way. Thanks for sharing this.


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