Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The first story I knew about swamps came from the neighbor lady who was my best friend’s mother. She told us Bigfoot had taken up residence in an abandoned treefort next to the dark brown teawater of the creek we used to dam up with sticks and leaves and fistfuls of loamy mud. We watched and waited up at the edge of the trees but we never got near that soft earth again. I moved away not long after that and I missed the swamp, as well as the one behind my own house. we used to ride our horses through the woods where that swamp was and we always got nervous about where the ground began to give. We could never remember where that was. I tried to mark the spot one time with a big swatch of green moss held in place by a rock I liked but when I checked, the rock and the moss had been replaced by a fallen treelimb bigger than I was.
This swamp is big. Longswamp, a lurch of falling sod cut through by a drying fiddlebow of creekbed. This swamp hurts for rain now, its backbone an arch of resistance poking up through the places where softness comes to settle for the night. I tried to give it some help the other day and I’m hoping the solemn steps I took across its western edge will bring on days of cold and drenching winter rain. I’ll suck it up and wear one of those lamps on my head I guess when this happens, if it happens, so those soft places can sag deeper, like the belly of some big hurting thing you love and want to mend.
This swamp has a mind of its own and I’m not just talking about the way it’s changing without rain. Sometimes I go to sit on a log in this swamp and I hear it telling me things, a soliloquoy of earthfunk and possumhabits, a tale I won’t even be able to remember hearing once I head back home. Other times I tell it something, not a secret but maybe a rhyme or a line from a song, and it opens up its big old sweaty swamphands and just hands those words right back, humming the way words do just below the brainspace of language, hanging out on the threshold between meaning and the flatline beauty of _____________. It can’t help but be what it is, a churn for the dawn songs of birds and a fertile hotspot where I could go blind waiting for its foxfire. It has tried, I know, to give up the sound it makes when no one is around to hear, that buzz that you think is your imagination telling on you for not getting enough sleep, that whisper of sulphur, that growl you wish you could carry around inside you like the memory of your mother’s voice.
This swamp doesn’t need anything new. It sustains itself through a variety of methods: the ritual spatter of Grape Nuts and birdseed out into one of its puddles when I’m thankful, the bluejayfeather I choose to leave alone on one of its logs instead of sticking it on my dashboard like a fractalled strand of jesus’ hair. This swamp is not just long but deep and it can conjure up old stories like you wouldn’t believe. It gave me a dream about a purple tricycle the other day, the one I had when I was five years old. I could feel the streamers in my hand and I remembered how my little brother picked up a dead wharf rat and left it on the rusting bananatriangle of tricycleseat for me to find. It was a gift, not a trick. A homecoming, rank and ready to return back where it came from. This swamp will tell me other things too if I’m not careful, like how the stars converged when I was born to make the shape of some big fish no one’s caught yet, up there in the jetstreams of midafternoon, not visible yet but waiting to be.

lks 2008

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at or