Let the River Run its Course

Anne Whitehouse

           Artist Simon Gunning speaks

At first the Mississippi 
seemed stubborn and closed,
not much at all—wide, flat, and pale.
But I hadn’t looked closely enough.

The real river was industrial, 
hostile, and dangerous.
In the sun rippling the sullen water,
in the smells of coal tar,
wet rope, and diesel,
in detritus and decay,
I sensed its energy, its life force.

Maybe that was why I stayed.
I had stopped in New Orleans
on my way from Australia
to art school in England
I had a scholarship to
but I never got there.
Gradually, Louisiana wound 
its tendrils into me 
and wouldn't let me go.

I painted the river in all its weathers,
as it flowed from north to south.
Beyond the skeletal ruins of a dock
loomed a monolithic freighter,
half lost in haze. Below the placid surface 
at the river’s mouth, roiling 
currents surged into the Gulf Stream
at the start of their global journey.


NAME, Anne Whitehouse is pleased to be appearing in riverbabble once again. She is the author of a novel, Fall Love, just published in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes, as well as six poetry collections — The Surveyor’s Hand, Blessings and Curses, Bear in Mind, One Sunday Morning, The Refrain, and her new volume, Meteor Shower, published by Dos Madres Press in 2016. Recent honors include winner of the 2016 Songs of Eretz poetry prize, first prize in the 2016 RhymeOn! poetry contest, 2016 Poems of gratitude award, and second prize in 2016 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum poetry contest.

     riverbabble 32 table of contents    |   Write to the Author   |  Go to the Archives