The Hum of the Blood of the Earth
                                        after Pare Lorentz
 
By Susu Jeffrey
 
Water roaring over rocks
in Dakotah, Min-ne-rah-rah
                 the sound of the falls
  discovered by Father Hennepin
    whilst a prisoner
      of native people
                 hard limestone
                 overlays
                       sand
               stone
Big River
       digs caves
       with mist.
Anishinabeg say, Ka-kah bi-kah
                          Split Rocks
    first falls north
    from the Gulf of Mexico
        called
          Curling Water
                   named
                    Split Rocks
                          labeled
                           Falls of St. Anthony—
on the great vein of the mainland,
current cuts rock
             rearranges maps.
 
St. Paul / Pig’s Eye
    dumps 350 pounds of cyanide a day.
New Orleans drinks
     bottled water
                            from the mouth
                            to the source
    raw sewage and dream songs,
layers
         of ancient
         inland sea
           break off
                    in chunks
    with trees leaning into the river
                                   like Li Po—
                 tamarack, birch, hickory            
         mullberry, boxelder
         sycamore, sumac, chokecherry, laurel
         willow, magnolia, cypress
bleed
                  medicine the color
of Mississippi.
 
            Down the Allegheny
               down the Monongahela
               down the Ohio
                       
great north woods cut and poled
               down the Mississippi to prairie
sawmills
south of St. Louie
        logged-out
                            French-
                      Canadian
                      Scandinavian
                      Irish, German
                      landless Yankee
Big Muddy melting pot
shucking silt two-thousand miles  across
    from Appalachia to the Rockys
 
               down the Kentucky, Tennessee
            the Yazoo and Arkansas
            down the wide Missouri
 
topsoil and road salt
sully the aorta of North America,
    industrial cholesterol
        a blood clot
Mark Twain can’t write off.
 
Old Man River—cotton highway
     banks and bluffs with names
        sandbars with numbers–
coyote river,
                   dances twenty-three-hundred miles
                    down
                      the heartland—
                          beaver islands and wild rice
                                buffalo, corn, catfish.
Great Water
    washes bones of bald eagles
points a migration path
    for geese, duck, red men, white
    and free men
        since Turtle Island rose
        from glacier weight
        and more deer than people
               drank at these shores,
twelve-thousand
years—I
             from mastodon to nuclear waste
         the river folds the land
   sweeps over cultures, languages
lost,
       except
                 the river song—
the hum of the blood of the earth,
the Mississippi.
The Mississippi.
 
No copyright but please credit Susu Jeffrey, 2014


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By Published On: June 3rd, 2014Comments Off on Susu Jeffrey: The Hum of the Blood of the Earth [The Mississippi River Poem]

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