William Wright

Edgefield Creek

During rain, I wanted to drift down to it, ghostly,
this place of gneiss and shale, of boulders
wearing down into sluice, swales

and purls where fiery bodies of salamanders
burned through their clarities, then gone under stone.
During rain, I wanted to immerse into silt,

the murky ablutions of quartz and carnelian,
crawdads with their red-tipped claws,
the sway and shiver of ash and sweetbay

conducting ten thousand baptisms overhead,
green hands wavering. Down under congregations
of mayfly and heron, crane and wren,

through the skunky musk
of breeding cottonmouths, even the stream’s
creeds of venom and bone. Down through

time’s detritus: twig and leaf, the shoals eaten
smooth through moss-clung ridges
and cutbanks into hidden sources of what the creek

carried and what carried it, and even down through
what no longer moved: Hidden narratives
of creek-side mothers, onyx-haired, laughter

and bowls boiling with hunted meat. Clothed in
deerskin, turtle shell rattles for the green
corn dance. Villages gathered at rivers to fish

and feed over fires beneath vegetal gods.
Down through English pipes, beads and awls,
novaculite drills, pottery shards, flint scrawls

and scraps stitched through remnants of animal
and human alike, stone-ghosted testimony in
underground layers no human shall see again.
Still downward through Pleistocene imprints,
cartilaginous fishes long vanished to time’s cruelty.  
Down through amulets and dents of moon-old

gestures, cruxed in bivalves and bryozoans,
earth of Pangaea, magma fire and cell,
comet and dust, this turning galactic allusion.

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