Louisiana Walking Snakes

The swollen ankle of Louisiana is silted
so furiously, I could sow pea gravel 
upon the rutted crown of our levee,
and grow a new Alp. Every hundred
years, unannounced, the River bunches
her dark sheets, and rolls from her bed.
Straddled up on the barn ridge, 
Luke sweats out mosquito swarms,
lords the whole frowned curve of our
earth. I peel eggs for supper, wait for
my seedling mountain to rise through
to the white end of air, up high enough
that blue flies shrivel, rat snakes
lose their grip and swim again into 
the sun. The tractor’s breathless
smokestack shoots out rusted birds:
a hallelujah hand holding up a whole
congregation. Where am I in the long
dream of the River’s slumbering?
Defeated by the ease of the soil, Luke
left the engine where it died, mid-stroke
in the cotton. God leans hard on us:
bolls soft as milk, soybeans dripping
yellow diesel, and Luke patiently 
belittled by the silver-eared corn.  
Sometimes he can’t take it, says 
the land’s too holy, says he’ll jump
from the tall red eve. It does no good.
The dirt spits him out again, but 
keeps his arms, keeps his legs.

First published in The Hollins Critic, February 2008.