Mississippi Mouth: an introduction
by Ayana Zaire Cotton

The table has been made but not set
Water is poured and we remember
Words melt fluid builds and pools into Energy for Change
Seeping into ground fractures
A clearing appears
Running toward it we
Gush and build and gush and build and gush and
Rock is worn smooth
Mountains get dimples
Horizons get nipples
From every beginning Energy for Change2 creates slits deep enough for rivers finding home
Sites of memory recalling when straightened
Flooding in refusal
Your mississippi mouth3
Your every beginning
Wet worlding creating a landscape over and
My god oh my god
We get to live here

The day became a century
And centuries became infinity
Because of the gushing
Keeping the world wet with words
They found the portal at your table
The watering(hole) a metallic two-way mirror to onlookers
Protecting an internet of intimacy
I paused at the window to marvel at
The world wide web
Made of spit and time
My god, oh my god
We get to live here

A holiday for the wet we
Transported by fractured ground
Unafraid of pleasure
Running toward its mouth
Screaming with ecstasy and flooding with remembrance
Suspended and submerged
Oh my god
We get to live here






1.Water Table, Wikipedia. “The water table is the surface where the water pressure head is equal to the atmospheric pressure (where gauge pressure = 0). It may be visualized as the "surface" of the subsurface materials that are saturated with groundwater in a given vicinity.”

2.Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power by Audre Lorde. Paper delivered at the Fourth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Mount Holyoke College, August 25, 1978. “ In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change.”

3. The Site of Memory by Toni Morrison in Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, 2d ed., ed. William Zinsser (Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin,  1995), 83-102. “You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. “Floods" is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, that valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory—what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our “flooding.”

4. Artist Caitlyn Cherry, b. 1987, Chicago, IL