Saturday, 25 October 2008

25 October 2008

cares and I didn’t. We wheeled through the sultry old light of Algiers, back on the ferry, back toward the muddy-splashed crabb’d old ships across the river, back on Canal, and out; on a two-lane hiway to Baton Rouge in purple darkness; swung west there, cross’t the Mississippi at a place called Port Allen and tore across the state of Louisiana in a matter of three hours. Port Allen---Poor Allen---where the river’s all rain and roses in a misty pinpoint darkness and where we swung around a circular drive in yellow foglight and suddenly saw the great black body below a bridge and crossed eternity again. What is the Mississippi River?---a washed clod in the rainy night, a soft plopping from drooping Missouri banks, a dissolving, a riding of the tide down the eternal waterbed, a contribution to brown foams, a voyaging past endless vales and trees and levees, down along, down along, by Memphis, Greenville, Eudora, Vicksburg, Natchez, Port Allen, and Port Orleans and Point of Deltas, by Potash, Venice and the Night’s Great Gulf, and out. So the stars shine warm in the Gulf of Mexico at night. From the soft and thunderous Carib comes electricity, and from the Continental Divide where rain and rivers are decided come swirls, and the little raindrop that in Dakota fell and gathered mud and roses rises resurrected from the sea and flies on back to go and bloom again in waving mells of the Mississippi’s bed, and lives again. So we Americans together tend as rain to the All-River of Togetherness to the sea, and out, and we don’t know where. With the radio on to a mystery program, and as I looked out the window and saw a sign that said USE COOPER’S PAINT and I said “Okay I will” we rolled across the hoodwink night of the great Louisiana plains---Lawtell, Eunice, Kinder and DeQuincey, western rickety towns becoming more bayou-like as we reached the Sabine. In old Opelousas I went into a grocery store to buy bread and cheese while Neal saw to the gas and oil. It was just a shack; I could hear the family eating supper in the back. I waited a minute; they went on talking. I took bread and cheese and slipped out the door. We had barely enough money to make Frisco. Meanwhile Neal took a carton of cigarettes from the gas station and we were stocked for the voyage---gas, oil, cigarettes and

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