Down to the River

I walked, stumbled, from the bar
to the river, drawn down
by flowing dark water,
eight tequila shooters,
fate, which is an unnamed
unbaby, that, and “Sure,
go ahead, go on,
I’ll get home just fine
without no help from you.
Yeah, fuck you too.
I want to see the goddamn
river anyway. Lived here
all my life, all
my life, and how many times
I put my feet in it?
Not once.”  I gathered
myself at the river, the beautiful,
the beautiful river, mud
gumming my boots, and “I washed
my hands, said I washed my hands,
said I washed my hands
in muddy water.”  I plunged
my face in brown sludge
chugging to the gulf, water
laden once with cotton,
slaves, and whisky, laden
now with black-humped
coal barges–all
that cargo, past and present,
I almost saw.  At dawn
I woke, wet, revolting,
and contemplative.  I called Joy,
and when I slumped into
the clapped-out Corolla,
I explained, “We all live
underwater.  Maybe
everybody knows that.
But I didn’t, Joy, I didn’t
know that.”  Joy refused
to inquire further, refused
to ask one single fucking
word.  She understood me.
She believed it too, but our
epiphanies were parallel
at best.  I, goddammit,
I was still lost, remembering
moonlight iridescent
on diesel fuel and the chocolate
froth of industrial
effluvium.  Through the corroded
floor pan, I studied
between my feet the yellow
center line, white
right shoulder line.
Joy was all over the road.
Joy was just flat
pissed off, but Joy,
a joke I’d made before,
Joy was driving.

Andrew Hudgins

Andrew Hudgins

Andrew Hudgins is Humanities Distinguished Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University.The author of nine books of poetry, two books of criticism, and a memoir, he now lives in Sewanee TN.
Andrew Hudgins

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Author: Andrew Hudgins

Andrew Hudgins is Humanities Distinguished Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University. The author of nine books of poetry, two books of criticism, and a memoir, he now lives in Sewanee TN.