Tuesday, September 10, 2013
1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi… Before I Can Count, or Spell Mississippis I’m 4, looking over the Bridge Rail Waiting for skimming barges Afraid to see big, long water snakes, Dark as the water, Happy to see Koi, Oranges, dark greys, pearl whites, “Is that where my goldfish go When they swim upside down in my bowl then Go away?” Delighted at their immortality. 1 Mississippi, I’m ten, and Ferris wheels Glitter on Old Miss’s Banks, Rhinestones that decorate the shore The way they decorate hats you win At the Carnival, Murder that summer, Never solved, A boy who was my age will never ride the Ferris wheel again. He is not immortal, and the rail road bridge, its tracks, and the Arsenal Gates are his last companions. 2 Mississippi, I’m 15, and its Field Biology time, I’m wading in her shores at Sunset Marina, Pulling things out of the water, Creating slides of microscopic Water creatures, Wearing rubber hip boots, Not fishing, but catching a lot, An old doll head finds its way to me, Sightless, grimacing, glad I’ve caught it. We disinfect it, sew it a body, Create Couture from an old swim dress of mine. It has a second life. 3 Mississippi; I’m nearly 30. I don’t have to count “Mississippis” any more To measure time. It flows swifter than my River’s Current. I’m gone, gone girl to California. I wade in the Pacific now. But, I don’t like it. Not anymore. Like Susie Glaspell, I want my river. 4 Mississippi, I’ve come home, Still looking for water snakes in the Black Water, Still struggling against Time’s Current, Writing, teaching, showing Others my River. 5 Mississippi, I won’t tell you how old I am. “You are drinking the Mississippi River,” A sign reads at one of my old schools. Well, I do drink it in. I visit its locks and dams, Damn its bridges, Ride its currents when I can, Listen to my River. One day I’ll sail it down to River Styx. Then I won’t even try to count Mississippi’s anymore.