There Is No Train but the Tracks Will Lead You There
for maps or guides to find
the swamp’s heart. Everything that touches
this mud leaves its own prints
to follow—eagles, nutria, black bear, gators—
all claws to mark your way.
Trust your own nose to tell you
should not be followed. If you see gray fur
caught on a palmetto frond,
or count four toes on any webbed tracks,
find the sun in the sky
right away. West of dead center
you’ve run out of time. Move
in the direction any line on your palm
leads. Do not linger near shadows
or look straight
into any yellow light.
almost everything where you are can outrun you,
and what can’t is drifting just below the surface
of the water you just used
to cool your face.
Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collections are Elliptic (Yellow Flag Press, 2016), Revenant (Blue Horse Press, 2016), and No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, fall 2018). He has recently been appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to serve as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.