I remember the last days of the crawdad wars. That was the story we told each other when we couldn’t find a living thing anywhere swimming in the creek. Though it wasn’t a war at all; it was a massacre, a genocide. We used to live and breathe that creek. It was our sanctuary. And as kids, we worshiped in the holiest, most honest ways. We took our shoes off to wade in the mud-luscious holy water. We did our best to get lost in cattail labyrinths and caught minnows, snakes, skinks, seeing how long we could keep them alive in glass jars.
The dirt hills were the first to go. My brothers taught me how to ride those rollers. They showed me how to hit a jump at full speed, how to land, and how to take a fall. I can still see them on those battered bikes, soaring ten feet, twenty, I swear, we all saw it. But they flattened those dirt hills before I had the chance to jump the gap that all the big kids said I was too small for, I’d die if I tried. It seemed like they were there one day, and the next, a strip mall, asphalt, concrete paving over our childhood.
The creek remained. I think it’s still there, a protected reserve. But nothing lives there now, not a crawdad, not a salamander, nothing but spiders. The creek still runs, but it’s dead, choked with pollution; it’s black and blue like a bruise. In that slow, golden blaze of childhood, the sun sets so gradually you never notice until it’s pitch-black all of a sudden. That’s how it was with the creek.
One day we were playing in the muck-lovely water, seeing how close we could get our fingers to the crawdads’ pinchers, and then all of a sudden night came to the creek, everything died, or disappeared, or wilted and the sun never rose again.
Levi Andrew Noe was born and raised in Denver, CO. He is a writer, a yogi, an entrepreneur, and an amateur oneironaut. Levi won first prize in 2011 and 2013 in Spirit First’s international poetry competition. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Ink Sweat & Tears, Connotation Press, The Harpoon Review, Five 2 One Magazine, LitroNY, 101 Words, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, Birdy, River Poets Journal, Elephant Journal, and Japan Travel, among others. He is the editor-in-chief and founder of the podcast Rocky Mountain Revival, Audio Art Journal.