Wherever orange and ochre ditch-lillies Cradle a rural highway’s curve or the Summersweet goodness of black raspberries Calls out from an overgrown, vacant lot, Recall an abundant God who delights In the mysterious placement of gifts To slake the thirst of withered, weary souls.
In the chirps of bluebird hatchlings crying For their food from within a trashcan nest, In every kind and holy word spoken Amid hurried striving for peace and rest, In unsought, unbought graces coursing through The veins of the world, receive the oracle— Witness that there are no cosmic orphans.
At the confluence of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers, silt swamps and rich farmland attract tens of thousands of sandhill cranes on their annual migration from the upper midwest to the Gulf coast. In recent decades, a sizeable population overwinters there instead of continuing further south. Just downstream from this merging point is Blythe Ferry, the site of the final forced removal of the Cherokee nation from their lands, where some 9,000 men, women, and children were held in camps for weeks before floating downstream or being carried across the river to walk what is now known as the Trail of Tears.
From the air, a river’s course is plain— No surprise waiting around the bend On this map for migrating sandhills. Life is carried effortlessly as silt. The flock pauses to dig mussels or Pillage a farmer’s unreaped corn Rejoicing in rattling trumpet calls.
From the ground, a river marks an edge A line of knowing and not knowing One side from the other as it flows. Death is carried down cold and aloof. Blood, waste, and tears washed along with mud From a people massed and waiting for The flood of pain to crest and recede.