Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Lost Bayou

by Glenn Bergeron II

Years ago, we paddled our pirogues down
Lost Bayou beneath colossal summer
Suns searching for wild blackberries along
Dense banks of saw palmetto fronds, cypress
Knees and tropic vines. Water moccasins,
Coiled in matted briars, often guarded
The prized fruit until shots from our rifles
Dropped them thrashing in venomous fury
To the water below, red bellies turned
Skyward. The berries’ juice stained our fingers.

We were fourteen and fearless. Gators, snakes,
Leeches and drowning stirred little more than
Caution in us. Our buckets filled with loot,
The mild current carried us to deeper
Waters. You said we’d be friends forever,
Passing me your can of snuff from which I
Took a pinch. We spoke of hunting, fishing,
Our teacher’s stocking calves which had nothing
To do with the algebra she taught us.
You claimed she kept you after class one day.

You wanted me to believe you, old friend,
In all things, but I could not. I also
Could not have known that years later, divorced
From all but Johnny walker, I’d find you
Still drifting. “Remember those blackberries?”
You asked. I did. “They were the only thing
Real.” You touched my cheeks with nicotine-stained hands
And disappeared but this time forever.
The bayou surrendered your body three
Days later. Duckweed, like tears, covered your face.