Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2020  Vol. 19 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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A Parting Stone

This is where the hanging flower baskets
stream Highway 35. Where the cars spread
out in a day gone down, the pour starting up,
the hot pour. Pace picking up and the hot

of the car. In the rain I am drawn off
the shoulder, to a bundle of flowers taped
to a tree trunk. Someone’s name there on them.
I should have stayed longer back home,

should have stayed for the river summer
in its sand hours, tree slump. Some settle-back
people do to enjoy the herons, hundreds
of them, as they leave behind their cottonwood

heights for the low banks, our Mississippi.
Instead I drive the byway. The Great River Road
out of town with its symbols anchored
all around distracting. From poles to trees,

these baskets with flowers tacked to the poles,
those trees with flowers, making as shrines.
I escape to my side, pull off and pull into
a side stretch my eyes find through the rain,

through the darkening bluffs beyond the windshield’s
pivoting arms. When a great blue call directs
my treads, moves me beyond my body, outside
the car outside my body, I tear open with my two

hands one funneled arrangement, spreading out
its one hundred blooms, each bud with several
blooms, and these baskets. Their round-handled
weaves soaked open to the cord. Part by part

to the private shallows I follow their remains,
having departed today with a similar ease, knowing
we receive one another where the bay receives
us all. Tonight, I reach the state’s last bend.

Bluffs tumble forward to the backwaters, roll
easily into the locks and dams. In the after-rain,
through the spill of the moon, wet and starving:
herons, their stems to the asphalt.  

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