Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

After

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

After

Article excerpt

The highway straight to the end of the world skims past

a ruined mall, Kmart with roof stove in,

acres of parking lots where weeds judder through cracks.

Police station smashed, but McDonald's still sells shocked grease.

In the concrete barracks nursing home all the old ones drowned

trapped in metal beds. A pink-flounced girl

floated for a week in sludge, legs apart, face down.

Write an inventory, make an index, stutter a psalm.

Raw sewage piped from trailers chokes the bayou

and I am thinking how to say "and" or whether "and"

is the word for the way, beyond the swamp, the ghosts of pines

and skeletal cypresses march for miles in haze

and how I lost count of slab after cement slab

where bungalows used to stand. Under the bridge

in a swarm of water hyacinths, alligators doze.

Draw a map of where X's brother hanged himself,

where Y died of diabetes when the drugs ran out,

and an invisible map of smoke patterns in the lungs

of the girl who hammers sheetrock and gessoes cracks.

Yesterday's eggs and oatmeal congeal on stacked plates,

the house rises from mouldy rubble and waist-high weeds. …

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