Southern Icons A-Z

Cypress on Suwannee Sill
S: Still Scene, Southern Swamp
By Hastings Hensel
Perhaps especially with this—
a swamp in all its mossy stillness,

caught in a photograph by Douglas Eng—
the mind must impress some phrase,

must make an order out of metaphor,
for such is the way of reflection, and so:

the world, it seems, is turned in on itself
at the waterline—cypress and tupelo trees

like narcissists, solipsists, as if nothing
existed in the world except themselves,

especially not sound: not wing-beat,
not tail-slap, not splash, no sibilance

of the cottonmouth, only this silence,
and, because they are not razed (not yet

at least), the mind believes the trees proud,
and tells the ear to hear a cry, full of praise.

This weekend I was part of an exhibition at Slow Exposures in Zebulon GA. The exhibit Southern Icons A-Z was curated by Rob McDonald, Donna Rosser, and Meryl Truett, and contained 26 photographs with accompanying text, each one representing a word characterizing the South. I received the letter “S” for “swamp.” My immdeiate choice was an image I made in the spring of 2014 at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge title “Cypress on Suwanee Sill.” The Okefenokee typifies the classic southern swamp, full of mystery, darkness, wetness, and bugs. The Suwanee Sill is a berm that runs along a canal that borders the west boundary of the park. The canal intersects the Suwanee River. Along the sill one can drive and then walk along the forested edge and most of the time not see another soul.

I was honored to be part of this group show and very pleased with the collaborative prose authored by Hastings Hensel.

 

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