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Mississippi River Poems.

"The Mississippi rolls because there are skeletons rocking in cypress knee chairs under the silt." (Malaika Favorite, "Uses for Dry Bones")

I

The river that divides but also connects, reaching from shoreline to bank - It connects this city to isolation and rain, rolls silently, making a path for flotsam and barge, and light shading light.

"Come quick! The Delta Queen is passing!"

In the night its beams glow like teeth, each poised for the bite, like coins, like Mardi Gras at the height of the parade - the many-colored beads thrown to the sky, to the ground, to hands clutching for the magic of connection - human spillage believing in the promise of joy.

The Mississippi rolls. The Delta Queen, maiden river boat with revelry the norm, passes in twilight. Laughter spills over dark water, the coastline "rocking in cypress knee chairs under the silt," singing their songs of death, waiting like saints, waiting like gods, promising no promises.

The river's chant ringing forth.

II

Once I stood on the banks of the river. The water was green, gray, the color of grass, the heaviness of dawn, the ending of twilight, blackness that soothed the thickening air, that darkened the sky, that covered a marsh no child would explore.

Mornings I surveyed the sparkle, the surface - beads of ebony that moved like water snakes, or sauntered, rasping in one long breath - no beginning or end - a perennial inhaling of light, or exhaling the dark bowels of her depths.

A sorceress, purveyor of seeming, an allusion - Her beauty calls us. She is grasping, an insatiable hunger to taste our sweetness of life.

Her logo is DEATH. Regard her with caution. She is greedy, loving, cool, final.

III

The Mississippi flows, touching northside of this campus - this river - majestic, malignant, severe in its prescriptive definition of space.

The grounds of the school continue to swell. New growth changes topography with buildings top-heavy and wide, devouring air.

But on this side the Mississippi shields the grounds, no intruders except creatures on wings, bellies, or multiple grasping legs, or poets looking for a poem filtering through trees, wind, rain, gray light at dawn, shadows at dusk, songs of birds, or the crickets' mating cries, all responding to the murmur of waves turned to the bend of the river westward and north, lost among shadows of oaks, pines, sycamores lining the banks. They form an impasse with brambles and brush.

THE RIVER-that divides, connects, fades into the sky absorbing, reflecting vanishing light.
COPYRIGHT 1993 African American Review
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Section 3: Sayings, Sermons, Tall Tales, and Lies - Contemporary Black Poetry; poem
Author:Lane, Pinkie Gordon
Publication:African American Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:415
Previous Article:Mirrors.
Next Article:The big fight.
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