5 poems from Louisiana Purchase
Liz McGehee


Today we eat catfish outside of our bodies.
I hold you close like the loose cattle in our
virgin fields. I will follow your aching across
any hot marsh if you ask me. The President
says he wants a real woman, like Rosie the
Riveter & eyes me suspiciously. We keep
our gaze on the Mississippi. Rub ourselves
& watch the river’s silt veins build a factory.
Your heart belts jazz rhythms through my
leg frames. You want to say you’ll be a
preacher, a movie star, Mark Zuckerburg
even. But the President is too close & the
crickets will eavesdrop. So we go back to
deboning our quaking fingers.

Today the levees broke through us & no one
saw it coming. I could hear the screams from
underwater. Touch the splinters from our
cypress fence. The President says this is
normal & gives us complimentary pool floats.
The problem is that I am an astronaut whose
feelings are made of the thickest air. I wonder
when I touch you if my lungs will catch on fire.
I thought I saw smoke signals in your eyes.
Thought I saw soot slip through the cracks of
your teeth. The President says we should go to
couples therapy if we let a little thing like a flood
come between us. I can’t help but wonder if we
forgot to defrost the chicken this morning.

Today we lit our hair on fire to see how it smelled.
The President said it was necessary for regrowth.
We took our time frolicking in the green ashes of our
past. Collected it in mason jars to mix with our tea.
We drink from the river for that ripe iron taste. You
tell me I look beautiful when I take my eyebrows off.
I find a love note carved into the clothesline. The
broom handle. My wrist. I want to find you in the
fields. Remove your husk & gnaw until I hit
blackened bone. The French wrote a book about
this. We rub whiskey on our boots and naked bodies.
Water it into the cane. Hope for drunk sugar.
I find you on the banks of the river making love to me
while mosquitos touch me places you don’t.

Today we find a bayou named after a man who will
die. I am absorbed by perfectly angular wrists. I drink
the sweat from your upper lip. The cypress knees
laugh. They saturate our bodies with fire. We get
sassy with each other. My stomach is empty like
your ring finger. Things need to change. Even in the
bayou I feel the river heralding between your legs.
Sometimes flood damaged & grown over. We miss
rubbing our skin with the bible. Leaving spores of
closure in our hides. I want to know why my bones
ache at dusk. Why we light dust-covered candles in
the dark. You keep your favorite photograph stashed
under your eyelids for acceptance. While I haunt the
halls for lonely socks.

Today I befriend the bible belt to keep us safe. You fill your
fanny pack with rosaries & cicadas to pass the time. We wait
heavily through breathless humidity. I want to find you in the
fields hissing the book of psalms. Put soft stripes down your
liquored back piece. We drink love from stagnant boat bottoms
in times of need. Serenade ourselves into a quiet calm. I want
to find love in the strangest of places. Buckle down with you in
the harsh sunlight. Feel a small rebellion building in your lungs.
We are possessed with a life that is all our own. We plow the
way the Spaniards smile. Crooked & gold plated. Our veins are
intertwined deeper than me inside of you on Sundays. I trace
patterns of the river on your hips with my tongue. Feel your
roots searching for more ground. We hunt our desires in the
fields out back. & practice procreation every rainy day.