Maurepas, Nekyia

JACK BEDELL

If you’ve come way out here to see

what’s left of this bald cypress forest,

you’ve brought plenty of questions

with you. No doubt, these trees

have plenty answers, but their story

runs long, and they’re in no hurry. 

They’ve been choking on salt water 

since we built levees along the river, 

just waiting to show us where our

logging canals and oil spills are headed.

 

Stand out here long enough,

and you’ll hear it all—breeze,

bug whine, water lapping in 

and ghost-dancing out.

Dry grass shuffles against itself.

Bare branches point out toward

the horizon. It’s all a response.

Listen. You might even hear 

the swamp take its last slow breath

if you’re willing to wait a while.

Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Cotton Xenomorph, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, Kissing Dynamite, and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, 2018). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. 

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