Mississippi

1 November 2012

Caddy in Adelaide, from The Sound and the Fury

You offer me crab apples, lightning bugs, a red pick-up with a confederate flag
passing black men walking for miles, the gentle roll of the flat road
leading to some other county. I wrap the warmth of my body
around your great rivers, my hips and elbows curving with each bend.
I let clear water from creeks splash my skin, hold white pebbles
in my hand then pack them away for a time like now.

I smell you, Mississippi, petals of honeysuckle wet like my own;
your name a soft stammer on my tongue, like a lover’s.
I romanticise you as wild and random: native honeybees
flirt in the juices of a full-bosomed magnolia tree
where in its branches the trill of a mockingbird, and over there
the sound of someone’s pleasure at three in the afternoon.

Sassparilla, Chickasaw, loblolly pine, dead skunk.

I can hear your guitar and your fiddle, your children and your unborn babies
the old stories – of mammies, of the fields, of dead brothers.

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