Intergenerational Delta Blues
By Rebecca Meredith

I went down to the Mississippi Delta to watch my father die,
Taking the son who'd never seen/ the place where my bones grew, where
my heart stopped and started a million times
in love, in hate, in Godforsaken Bible-Belt fear.
We drove the length of it in August
the heat making a little mirage of every rise in the road,
a promise we could never get to.
That's the way it is, I told him,
the radio plays country and evangelicals, and nothing else.
The cell phones don't work at all,
And all you can do is lay yourself on
the delta's dinner table and let the kudzu take you,
Let the Drama-Queen southern thunderstorms
cuss you for a Yankee dog
and submit to it until you can run, still living, away
and just let it have the dead.
And just as I was shedding a natural tear
for the dead man that made me
and the living one by my side
who could run away and so would never understand,
we came to the crossroad of 61 and 49
and he grinned my old family grin,
popped a little Son House on the player
And Lord, we lifted over the delta, feelin' alright,
carried together on the broad, unbroken back of the blues.

For I.K.
By Rebecca Meredith

The old ones used to tell me,
looking out at lines of thunderheads
on the horizon,
About the time the tornado touched down
on Lacy Thomas' farm.
The funnel, they'd say,
Laughing as if they'd been there themselves,
and seen it all,
Picked him up and stripped him, and set him
Buck naked and perfect, in the crook
of a live oak tree.
And when the storm passed, and he came down,
Lacy Thomas walked the three miles home to find
That all he knew was gone. Gone.
Or, reconstructed into something that could
withstand the love of a storm capricious as a child.

They'd found him, smiling, singing a wordless song,
Stretched out amid the pieces of something
that must have been important the day before.
They named him miracle, and told each other that story
a hundred times, agreeing about the devastation,
but never feeling quite right about that smile.
They always fell quiet when they told about
the loose change they gave him when they met him
Walking barefoot toward no place, every place
having become the same.

Today when I heard you had died,
Distant thunder rolled,
And the landscape shifted, accommodating

a void unfillable
By anything not exactly you.
The wind lifted me like it did Lacy Thomas,
That last moment when he still
knew his way,
Stripped me of the world that held you,
and set me, perfect, into one that does not,
Reconstructed into something that can withstand the love
of a life capricious as a child,
And wondering if I can ever lie down again, and sing,
wordless, in a place that feels like home.

Easter Poem
By Rebecca Meredith

But who will resurrect the Holy Fool?
Who will raise the wild, courageous heart
that danced around the sacraments and saints
in human garb and flawed human desire?

Who will help remind us we are not
so wonderful or terrible or lost,
but all of them at once, so utterly
without pretense that pretense becomes all-

And we can only all fall down, and weep
for who we are, for who we're not, for who
we love and cannot save, or have, or want,
and what we cannot be, or do, or say.

But who will resurrect the Holy Fool,
the teacher who reminds us still to laugh
and thumb our noses, leer, to drop our pants
in front of God and eminence and all?

We must remember that, when life and death
are left to mysteries that stand beyond
our ken and power, we can still perform
one holy rite, and open up our mouths
and hands, uplift our hearts and cross our eyes,
and dare to laugh, and, laughing, become wise.


I am a poet and psychotherapist in Bellevue, Washington who conducts poetry therapy groups as a part of my practice. My work has appeared in The Forum, a psychoanalytic quarterly, as a part of Seattle's Jack Straw Writer's Program, and others. I am a Hedgebrook Fellow as a result of my work in short fiction as well.


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