INUNDATION RHAPSODY: MIDWEST 1993

 

                          St. Charles, West Alton, Davenport 
                          the names flood past 
                          like the roofs of houses 

                          arched and powerless 
 

                          This is the reverse 
                          of purification, cleansing, 

                          everything filmed 
                          in cisterns 
 

                          After the quick, brandishing skies, 
                          the slow creep up 
                          the marooned wallboards 

                          we watch 
                          yet cannot see 
 

                          Romance gives way 
                          to railroad ties, barges, 
                          débris, sandbags, cloacal flux, 
                          trees stuck 

                          like broccoli 
                          in that muddy sauce 
 

                          The ache of every bed, chair, 
                          appliance, desk, books 
                          that normally 
                          frisk and run now 

                          bound in place like 
                          Antaeus, prisoner of the earth, 
                          in water, anchoring water 
 

                          This slow, lapping reaching 
                          makes immobile even 

                          the eyes 
                          rapt, staring 
                          dry as summer bone 
 

                          Standing at the cliff's edge 
                          secure in ideology

                          we confront: Passion 
 

                          The Father of Rivers 
                          makes us all children again, 

                          asking for lessons, 
                          begging for our place 

                          to be sheltered, 

                          being turned back 
                          from the knee 
                          to our own pain and path 
 

                          Is there any other way 
                          to know streamings of mind, 

                          terrors that 
                          spill out 
                          visibly 

                          in torrents above 
                          below 

                          crawlings 
                          the pace of fear 

                          clutching our ankles, 
                          our own dragging demons? 
 

                          Not just water 
                          but all our obsessions 

                          pour out, 
                          take over the land: 

                          Protect us, governments, God, 
                          return us to our lives 

                           without residue, 

                          without anxiety, sludge, 

                          the life we knew 
                          we want
                          returned unscathed, insured 
 

                          That crazy Rain Dance 
                          must have worked its charm, 

                          we were athirst 
                          twirling like crazy, 

                          searching for deliverance
                          from the dry days, 

                          desert of our century's dying end 
 

                          Mirages fired 
                          the mind 

                          I remember 
                          when I saw you, mountains 
                          of the southwest, 

                          Mexico, blue and dry, 
                          hazy in the heat 
                          of distance, 

                          long dry road as 
                          far from here as Jupiter 
 

                          How could life be otherwise 
                          but an ark in pairs 

                          poems, parasols, plastic bottles, 
                          all the paraphernalia 

                          of ourselves 
                          floating downstream 
                          like a dream 

                          before us 
 

                          Our history floats by 
                          awful in its diuretic honesty 
 

                          Let us not forget 
                          locality, 
                          the individual human face 
                          stolen into pain, 

                          life's photographs 
                          eroded and disfigured 
 

                          Wrong bird 
                          hiding out in the wrong nest, 
                          wrong tree, even nature 
                          is confused 

                          O waters gathering 
                          high and low 

                          surrounding and imprisoning, 

                          bring our leavings 
                          right 
                          before us, 

                          century of greed 
                          and waste 
 

                          Carry out our baggage, 
                          empty sins, 

                          hubris 
                          and despoilment 
 

                          into 

                          the Mouth of Life, 

                          source of ends 
                          beginnings 
                          the wide claiming sea. 
 

                                                            --David Radavich
 
 
 
 

 


 
 

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