Journalism In Verse

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Alive in Captivity After the Flood

in Environment/Hurricanes by

There are lots of ways to be blind,
but you can smell water
even when you can’t read a map:
volcanic beachheads, a wild trench,
ambiguous lines of terrain,
each divided by the transitive property of water.

Admire the math of a cornfield maze,
the farmer who dusts his hands
in fulfillment while the silo leans forward
as if it has something to say.
Beyond it, tamed and peaceful,
a disused church stands, its eyes
broken like the last panes of heaven.

You’ve seen this, and through birthday binoculars
you’ve seen other scapes: ructions at the waterhole
in a world so flat that everything seems in view –
hyenas, vultures, herds of elegant ungulates.

Home it’s all possumhaw and crawdad palace.
I like the land, animals, birds, this place;
still I wonder what it wants me to know.
So I listen when the water speaks;
I look when it tells me to,
but mostly I go when it says go.

 

 


Jerry Bradley is the Leland Best Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Lamar University. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, he is the author of 8 books; his work has appeared in Modern Poetry Studies, New England Review, Poetry Magazine, and Southern Humanities Review.

Image by Sam Austin.

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