Touring the Mississippi Delta by Alexis Ivy

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I don’t know a soul here except Steve

the motel clerk, who thinks he knows

me, thinks I could skidaddle out of here

and love the Ground Zero Blues Club

in Clarksdale. I visit the town Sumner,

where Emmett Till went to trial and went

to the Tallahatchie to touch the Mississippi

mud and grass on the black side of the river.

Trees grow in the middle of the river,

they stand in muck, salute the west east

north south, their roots above ground

exposed eternally. Everything here is

as hard as land.

 

Delta crops shine in the sun down

Route 61. Churches come out

of nowhere, each one windowless

manicured, a box of god.

I’m listening to blues on the radio,

a chaingang in her voice, Gospel pain,

savior pain and the three backup singers

as strong as conviction.