The Mississippi

I wanted the Mississippi to be bigger.

As big as its name.

I wanted her to overpower me with strength and width and inspire me

like the thousands of writers who have eloquated about her.

I wanted the Mississippi to threaten me, to rile me up, to quake me,


But it can’t.


It is too burdened with the weight of a thousand rivers

Pouring themselves into her come-at-able depths.

Rivers carrying the prayers and despairs, the hoping and coping,

The aspirations and desperations, the crying lying, and dying

Of a nation in the depths of coming to terms with its karma.


The Mississippi doesn’t welcome this burden, nor reject it,

Neither takes it up or puts it down, neither absorbs or repels it.

She just consumes it and filters it,

and moves this country’s ills

to the Gulf, to the Sea to the Ocean to the Sky,

to the Mountains and back to the Land;

Purified, scrubbed clean,

to fill the springs and the creeks and the streams and the rivers

that absorb the pollution of America’s greedy dreams,

its painful arrogance, and the blood of its self righteous wars.


Soon though, she will stop.

She will clog up the mouths of those rivers with unmetabolized waste,

and those rivers will dam up the confluence of the creeks

which will back up the springs

which will have nowhere to run and will remain underground,

hiding, waiting, for this eon to pass.

I’d like to say now, like Lascelles declared in “The Box”

“But there is a way to stop it all” (sic)

“All it takes is wisdom.

”But I am not “absolutely sure” that there is a way.

Except perhaps for some global pandemic

That threatens the lives of all of us


.…But that’s not working either.


So perhaps Lascelles is right that

“No one seems to want to save the children anymore.”


It doesn’t seem to matter to the Great Mississippi.

She just keeps on rollin’

Until she doesn’t.

Until she does.

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