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This blog ran for more than two years with no graphics--and it received about 50 page views. I was advised to add graphics; after seeing the huge public that followed blogs dedicated to homoerotic images, I decided to use that kind. The result was a dramatically increased number of monthly page views, and the number has remained fairly steady. Most of the images were found on the internet; although they are assumed to be in the public domain, they are identified as far as possible. They are exhibited under the Fair Use protections of United States copyright law: their function is simply to attract readers to the poems--I receive no economic benefit from them or from the blog. Nevertheless, they will be removed if they are copyrighted and the owner so desires.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

VIEW OF THE MISSISSIPPI FROM FORT HILL AT THE VICKSBURG BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL PARK AND CEMETERY




From the wide, meandering drive
you look away, beyond the lines 
of white anonymous markers, 
down to where the barges 
are pushing past the piers, 
each as slow as the hour hand of a clock, 

while tiny speedboats whine
like mosquitoes as they skip up and down,
skimming the water 
to better their times.

The digital tour guide at Fort Hill 
makes it a point to say 
that the River isn't what you see
—“the River” around here 
always means the Mississippi—
but the Yazoo Diversion Canal, 
an artificial waterway
created by the Army Corps of Engineers
after the River shifted away
and left Vicksburg behind. 

The real Mississippi winds, 
like a snake uncoiling, on the other side 
of the shifting sandbars and temporary islands
that lie in the distance, looking like solid ground
crowded with undergrowth, cypress, willow, and pine.

Several hours farther down, 
at New Roads in the Parish of Pointe Coupée,
the River once twisted itself out this way.
On the Louisiana side
they made the old bed into a resort,
a playground for aquatic sports, 
called False River Lake.
They have sail-boating and water-skiing there,
and trolling and fishing from the shore,
lined now with substantial real estate. 

It all sounds pretty dull and safe,
and perhaps it is.
Perhaps there’s a point to be made
for complacency, though: The Chinese say,
with Mandarin politesse, 
May you live in interesting times,”
when they don’t mean to bless. 

More than once the River has 
struck at a town:
of that rip-roaring sinful place, 
Natchez-under-the-Hill,
there isn’t much left now;
and at Grand Gulf,
half an hour south of here,
fifty-six blocks of busy, sleepy people
sloughed off into the water
bit by bit, without a sound. 

Only a few minutes away,
antique and beautiful,
the clock-faced steeples of Port Gibson wait,
set back decorously not-too-near 
the soft slopes of the Little Bayou Pierre,
a minor tributary that everyone there 
calls “By a Pier.”
They watch the town’s two bridges—
the skeletal old one, mostly sucked down
in the great storm of  ’Fifty-Four,
and the squat, heavy new one, that brute mass and weight
have held in place so far. 

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https://mississippiriver.natgeotourism.com/content/historic-downtown-vicksburg/mspa915737884acb72d3

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