If you are going there by foot, prepare
to get wet. You are not you anymore.
You are a girl standing in a pool
of clouds as they catch fire in the distance.
There are laws of heaven and those of place
and those who see the sky in the water,
angels in ashes that are the delta’s now.
They say if you sweep the trash from your house
after dark, you sweep away your luck.
If you are going by foot, bring a stick,
a third leg, and honor the great disorder,
the great broom of waterfowl and songbirds.
Prepare to voodoo your way, best you can,
knowing there is a little water in things
you take for granted, a little charity
and squalor for the smallest forms of life.
Voodoo was always mostly charity.
People forget. If you shake a tablecloth
outside at night, someone in your family
dies. There are laws we make thinking
it was us who made them. We are not us.
We are a floodplain by the Mississippi
that once poured slaves upriver to the fields.
We are a hurricane in the making.
We could use a magus who knows something
about suffering, who knows a delta’s needs.
We understand if you want a widow
to stay single, cut up her husband’s shoes.
He is not himself anyway and walks
barefoot across a landscape that has no north.
Only a ghost tree here and there, a frog,
a cricket, a bird. And if the fates are kind,
a girl with a stick, who is more at home,
being homeless, than you will ever be.
“The Delta” first appeared in Poetry Magazine. It is forthcoming in the book The Other Sky (Etruscan Press).
Bruce Bond is the author of nine published books of poetry, most recently Choir of the Wells: A Tetralogy (Etruscan, 2013), The Visible (LSU, 2012), Peal (Etruscan, 2009), and Blind Rain(LSU, 2008). In addition he has two books forthcoming: The Other Sky (poems in collaboration with the painter Aron Wiesenfeld, intro by Stephen Dunn, Etruscan Press) and For the Lost Cathedral (LSU Press). Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas and Poetry Editor for American Literary Review.