By Jack B. Bedell
Swamp Thing Dives into Psalm 69
Quicksand under me, swamp water over me;
I am going down for the third time
Daily, this is the dilemma I face—sink in the mess pulling at my feet here, in the evil and strife I face every day—or scream for help from a god that only wants me to learn to swim on my own. The fact of the matter is I am sinking either way. The swamp loves a fight as much as it loves a secret, so that’s no answer. Evil is a fire ant bed with too many mounds to burn. There is no help anywhere close enough to get to me in time to save me, so where is salvation in this swamp? For me? For what’s left of this land? Scream all you want. Flail. Turn onto your back and roll out of this trouble. It’s on you. Us. It always was. No pretty song can change that simple fact. No curse, that truth.
Swamp Thing Loses His Sense of Bearing
One thing’s certain. If you sit on this shore long enough, you’ll think about time. It’s unavoidable. The water comes in, goes out. Takes what it wants. Comes back for more. Sunlight, moonlight. Breeze, heat. Pelicans hovering over the barrier island offshore dance this dance, too. Even though their island’s completely rebuilt with barges of sand, they continue this cycle of sharing the space they’re given, like they know the water will rise again in time—is rising—to take it all back. Watching them glide overhead like this, it’s too easy to lose any sense of being on shore, or on anything, to feel the gulf swell until you are standing underneath a whole new ocean, the birds’ bellies riding its gentle waves.
Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in HAD, Heavy Feather, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Moist, Autofocus, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, and other journals. He’s also had pieces included in Best Microfiction and Best Spiritual Literature. His latest collection is Against the Woods’ Dark Trunks (Mercer University Press, 2022). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.