I’ve been here for ages, my power
formed this land right, all curves and banks,
low countryside and limestone bluffs.
I’ve floated the barges, bounced riverboats:
three feet deep at my head, 200 at my feet—I have range.
I know respect, forever been called Mighty.
Anishinabe named me, kids learned to spell me, skipped rope
to the M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I rhythm and rhyme.
Then suddenly, everyone backed up and called me dirty.
Humph. Well. Whose fault is that? Chemical pushers.
My bowels feel sick. I wait for spring’s snow melt;
the rivulets run toward my chest, cold spring rains wake me.
All that fresh cleans me up, makes me bold.
I move fast now, no holding back my nuance. Those little sandbags
are just band-aids on my jugular. Fools.
Call it what they will, it takes style
the way I know how to break hearts, slap
those hands that try to control my twisting
ribbons of water. I’ll sign my name with a flourish
across those muddy fields, those silver
cities you turn to. I’ll remind them
what it means to sing
a song so brown the trees will know
I’m coming, the animals will feel my
brown in their bones. You? Yeah, just sit
back and wait. Take your time planning
￼how to fix all my unruly rage. I’ve found my religion
and I’m ready to split.