Weekly Feature: Poetry at The Arts Fuse
Welcome to “Poetry at The Arts Fuse.” A new poem, every Thursday.
—Mississippi River Meander Belt #7, Mississippi River Commission, 1944
Blues, greens, oranges, and reds shade
the paths across a vintage map of The Mississippi,
a birthday gift. Backswamps and braided streams
loop the river channels thousands-of-years old,
a cacophony of overlapping streams
whirling with its tangled beauty.
To look at it is to study the past lives of waters,
the meanders: the way water cuts a groove
in the earth and changes it forever.
The river’s ghosts snake and bend over time.
It is lovely. Alluvial. The memory of a mighty river
At its heart: a jumble of coils and purls
that shapes the soil, constantly repairing the landscape.
A repository for memory preserving a shared moment
as when two people have loved each other well
the topography transforms, diverges over time, cleaves
a clearer path to where it was always meant to go.
January Gill O’Neil is an associate professor at Salem State University, and the author of Glitter Road (forthcoming, 2024) Rewilding (2018), Misery Islands (2014), and Underlife (2009), all published by CavanKerry Press. From 2012 to 2018, she was the executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. The recipient of fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Cave Canem, and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, O’Neil was the 2019-2020 John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. She currently serves as the 2022-2023 board chair of the Association of Writers and Writers Programs (AWP).
Note: Hey poets! We seek submissions of excellent poetry from across the length and breadth of contemporary poetics. See submission guidelines here. The arbiter of the feature is the magazine’s poetry editor, John Mulrooney.
— Arts Fuse editor Bill Marx
Love this poem & all of your Mississippi poems!
This is a poem that continues to take my breath away!