Noxubee County, MS, Past/Present

This is the line that no-one spans
But for leaving or for passing through-
Going in, only to visist the elderly and to bury the dead,
And none but the dead return to reside.

We thought- speeding by,
At the edge of the land-
What liquid names, such an ooze of memory
Hanging in the air over worn-out prairie
And pine flecked hill
Like something, we said,
Out of a Faulkner novel
(Which, of course, we never read
All the way to the end.)

Said the bird to the thorn tree
There’s nothing left to sing
That virgin is long gone
Cracked skin torn, thrown
Into corners and refuse piles,
And in what I’ve salvaged for a bower-
These few things I remember

We came, riding that escalating wave
The borderland ever reclining
On the haze of the setting sun
It was, then, good land, wild, free, and
Violent in its wealth.
So we were, for a time and a half time,
Violent in the spending.

Then
The world ceased to spread.

So we stopped with it, and for a long while
We needed no more momentum,
Content in our endings.
But things change,
The river wears the chalk bluffs down
Forest reclaims every field,
And grass every grave.

Yet, for all of it,
The river still flows.
The low hills glow in embers
Before the quick winter sun,
And wait for the solstice.

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