Out of the river, mud climbed
broken embankments, crooked staircases,
gleaming hulls, the corpses of cows,
the skulls of cars. Out of the river,
mud entered our homes, roasted
its dinners in our ovens, filled our glasses
with gritty wine. At night, it made our beds, tucking
sheets and spreading covers. Mud said
its prayers and wept for us. It ticked in our clocks.
It wore our shoes and socks, plastered our ankles.
Mud took over banks, gas stations,
the mayor’s office. Mud baked our bread.
It spoke a thousand tongues, translated
our deepest needs into simple sentences.
It filled out our forms, smudging the signature line.
When mud wavered, even for a moment,
it kneeled in soggy churches, renewed its faith.
With its conscience clear, mud mixed
its own cocktail and went out to spread
the word, its logic impossible to rebut.
Mud drove a convoy of trucks unloading
cargoes of itself. Mud dammed the flood.
It hired us to work, raking mounds of it
into gardens and carrying it in pails.
When we looked up, even the sun was mud.
(Published in New England Review)