“Blood where the sky has opened.”
– Jorie Graham
“You may bury my body, ooh
down by the highway side
So my old evil spirit
can catch a Greyhound bus and ride”
– Robert Johnson
Up early. Water level low enough to walk
a hundred yards toward horizon: mud flats
crack and squelch underfoot. No one
else is here
this morning. Unfamiliar sun awaits,
hungry dark lingers against gulf’s goodbye kiss,
last girl in the dance hall, first one
to meet your eye. A wink is a promise
and a threat: follow or sit down.
In this part of the world we are never
alone and this is not my story.
How many songs before you understand
why a body must keep moving?
That when you stop, you die. This is said
of certain sharks, though it might be untrue –
but we do all of us sense blood. Imagine:
single drop: one million gallons of saltwater. Still,
there is nothing evil in this world –
of being divine so small as to be invisible –
to peel back
what is known about the visible
requires a sort of wisdom,
an awareness of danger – you find yourself
in this spot where the last rivers end
and sky folds into ocean –
closer & closer, then farther away.
"Short History of the American South" appeared in Blue Earth Review 8.2 (Spring 2010).