Down to the River

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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.