Less than 100 yards down the slough
this swamp’s so thick it’s easy
to imagine a world where cars
don’t exist, where a breeze
is worth more than gold.
The water under your boat,
the mess of palmettos lining the shore,
the bald cypress blocking sun—
everything, all of it, hums with life
you can’t see but know is there.
Guidebooks will tell you this river
is full of alligators, these bushes
rife with feral hogs, but you’ll have to
take much of that on faith in this
slow place. The corners of your eyes
might catch movement here and there
if you’re still enough. But in this swamp,
what your eyes might catch
is never as dangerous
as what yellow eyes catch you.
Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in HAD, Rejection Letters, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Cotton Xenomorph, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, and other journals. His most recent collection is Color All Maps New (Mercer University Press, 2021). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.