Wander Word



By Atsuro Riley

Atsuro Riley is the author of Romey’s Order (University of Chicago Press, 2010), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, The Believer Poetry Award, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress. Brought up in the South Carolina low country, Riley lives in San Francisco.

Come the marrow-hours when he couldn't sleep,
the boy river-brinked and chorded.

Mud-bedded himself here in the root-mesh; bided.
Sieved our alluvial sounds–

Perseverating fiddler-crabs pockworking the pluff-mud;

(perforated) home-bank gurgle and seethe;

breathing burrow-holes, under-warrens,
    (pitched) pent-forts, coverts;

a rabbity heart-hammering amongst the canes;

bleat of something;

sleeping Mama grinding (something) with her jaw;

Daddy rut-graving gravel driving off;

the desolated train-trestle rust-buckling –and falling;

an echo-tolling cast-iron skillet like a gong;

downrivering gone (gone) gone (gone);

Sylvia supper-calling her fish-camp fish with a bell;

putting her tea kettle! wren-calls on for the crying
    marsh-wren orphans;

R.T. tale-telling down by Norton's Store
    "Where every Story cauls a Grief";

Daddy –nine-eyed, knee-walking– aisle-weeping at the Bi-Lo;

Mama mash-sucking sour loquats in the shed;

ire-salts quartzifying in the dark;

the caustics;

the fires;

far Fever Creek revival-tents hymning and balming;

bees thrive-gilding the glade;

hand-strang bottle-oaks (and intricated yardwire-works)
    clocking and panging;

Viaduct Forge & Foundry beating time;

the bait-boys along the dock drum-dunting their buckets;

vowel-howling over the water;

the river;