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Mississippi Aria

by Nick Kleese

Mississippi—if only I were able to

Sing of you as Whitman sang of stars,

I’d come to know your heart as well as mine

And see in you what even he could not record

Of your pent-up aching waters, born of

Glacial ice and muddy hillside rainshed, of

Sac and French and Pioneer legacies—oh,

Speak to me as you once spoke to that

Girl from Moline who sings your praises

So beautifully now. You were her lullaby, but

Did not sing to me—your voice became a whisper

On the prairie where I slept, drowned by the sound

Of shaking stalks and drying bins. I came to you

Too late to know you as a child and as a consequence I

Long to hear your murmur unabashed, freed from

Levees and bridges and barges churning

Your water against itself, to hear you murmur

In your native night, reflecting stars. If I were able to

Hear you ripple without an eternal electric distortion

My aria would be bound by no language, would be

Free from words and melody and the page. If only my

Sighs and murmurs could echo yours, I would sing of you.

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Last modified on June 19th, 2015
Posted on June 4th, 2013

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