The Driest Place on Earth

I watched in horror as the man hung
half a pig by a hook in the window.

Nearby, the sea shone or something.
Nearby, the wingspan of a hawk cast an elongated shadow.

I listened with horror to the words I was missing.
A wrongness was growing in the living moon.

& nearby, the sea rolled endlessly.
Nearby, the saw grass peered through the grit & preened.

I've never been to Florida. Louisiana however
is second skin of mind, a habit-habitat.

& Texas on the way there, the red soil 
& black boars, the frankly haunted pines

lone men in pickups fishing
for nothing they intend to catch.

& nearby, the sea froths over the edge.
& nearby, the sea.

Nearer & nearer
the obliterating sea

Copyright © 2017 by Shanna Compton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem
“I’m originally from Texas, though from a landlocked portion in its heart, and my spouse is from the southeast region, near the Louisiana border. This landscape is uncannily beautiful—piney woods, carnivorous pitcher plants, wild boars seen from the car window, bayous full of jutting cypress knees, the longest overwater bridge I’ve ever seen—but the region is economically depressed, plagued with prejudice, palpably violent. The whole Gulf Coast region is repeatedly devastated by hurricane season, which exacerbates these conditions. These threads finally came together in a poem after I read an article explaining that the official map of Louisiana is a lie—because much of what is shown is actually underwater.”
—Shanna Compton