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.