after Wallace Stevens
By CL Bledsoe
1. The levees are low walls. I stepped
over, but I still see mud
in my tracks all these years later.
2. Dragonflies hover over the feast,
like the helicopter Uncle Wheelbarrow stole,
set down in a rice field drunk
3. It’s not water; it’s the sweat
of generations from which grows
a momentary cessation of the banker’s hostility.
4. A soft smell something like sweet
straw and mud,
a mother’s hair.
5. Driving to college on a lonely highway,
levees race to catch up.
6. Blackbirds laugh from power lines
by the road as we trudge into the mud,
half-a-dozen spills and a shovel
on our shoulders.
7. Up on the high dirt road, somebody’s
truck eases to a stop to wait until we’re done.
8. My father took my fiancé on a tour of the rice
fields and told her, “Didn’t know
you were marrying into landed gentry,
9. The wind pushes flames across
the stubbled dirt. I watch
from the road, yearning for something
I can’t name.
10. Weeds grow inside an old farmhouse.
A rusted bedframe just visible
through the window hole.
11. When mom got too sick to stay home,
they put her in a nursing home built where
we used to farm.
12. Dad would wade out with a shoulder
full of spills and a shovel in a hundred degree
heat, patch the levees that needed it and cut
others, then back at the truck, down
a Budweiser like it was water.
13. Mosquitoes nudge ears, nose, mouth,
the wind’s reminder: yes, there is life in us,
if only we can get it out.