Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer.

“on the bayou” by Mark Conway that takes me into a meditative place, where edges dissolve, where time feels simultaneously compressed and expansive. Beginning with puzzlement (bent fish?), the poem opens line by line to slowly reveal the world’s elements (water, air, earth, fire), then closes with an insight that raises more questions than it answers. Every time I read this poem, it feels as fresh as dawn, and as self-contained as one picture-perfect day.

–Tracy Rittmueller

on the bayou
Mark Conway

where the fish were bent –
thinking they’re saved
by light curving
through the shallows’
upper stories :
waves dissolve
the silhouettes
drifting beneath
the fish hawk –
out / circling –
before it drops /
turning into
the living light ::
off the bay the creek begins
its clarity / sways off
in a twisting sling of mud…
we drift through a hole
into the prairie—
a culvert of metallic cold—
pulled by the current’s
slowly beating heart :
at the end of the hollowed dark
trees burn in a pyre of light :
the fire-world
of noon : we ride on the water-air
back into the flames—
on the surface of the green green earth
the only things we see through
and still see

Click to purchase rivers of the driftless region by Mark Conway

Mark Conway is the author of three poetry collections: rivers of the driftless region, from Four Way Books in 2019, Dreaming Man, Face Down (Dream Horse Press, 2010), and Any Holy City (Silverfish Review Press, 2005) and a chapbook, First Body, (Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2004). He is the former executive director of the College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute and was awarded the prestigious 2012 McKnight Foundation Artists’ Fellowship for Poetry. Presently, he teaches at the Loft in Minneapolis and lives outside Avon, Minnesota.

“on the bayou” from rivers of the driftless region 
©2019 by Mark Conway. Appears with the permission 
of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.