Tomorrow I Shall Arrive Weak and Tortured
Ghosts of the river, backwaters,
still waters, night waters,
drag me forward through the dark,
douse me with fog, drain me
with the murkiness of doubt.
Creosote columns tarred,
tired pier pilings, lift my sight
from the sagging bridge of civilization
to a cold starless sky, myths busted
like abandoned old cars by the bank.
Soughing water, black and reflective,
carry me to green days, chlorophyll,
protozoans, minnows filling a bucket,
drain me to the marsh flooded by egrets,
feed me wild grain as I scud over land.
Taunt me, rend me, ponds of green understanding,
remake me like railroad tracks
with rusty pumps and leaking troughs
into bike trails, with ox-eye daisies
and bluebells growing wild.
Swamp of transition, dammed, rotted,
outlast me, outlast us, swarm and teem
with gelatinous life, hold back the final truth
of your creativity like a soldier who swallows orders,
like a spy who will not break.
Silent current, channel me as you would sand,
churn in me the washed down erosion
of people, of myself, deliver me as sandbars
of bronze, bear me, plant me,
haunt me, break my will.
Once, when I’d left the field and turned toward the road
and passed the rusted pump that stood like a tired farmer
in the dust of the evening and passed the skydiving nighthawks,
looked back to the darkening barley and timothy
and wild waving grass, I decided, then, then, then,
packed my car and left crop rotations
and contoured plowing in the mirror,
not a field left fallow, the cows heading home
for milking to the accordion music
not of the generations of the Swedish farmer
but from the Sonoran, Mexico hand.
—Jeff Burt, Mt. Hermon, CA