Bayou Newlyweds

By Rome Hernández Morgan

Featured art by David Hockney

Evenings, we hold hands
and take long walks
through the neighborhood

as the sweet and sickly smells
of the chemical toilet plant
crystallize into greenish glowing stars.

We live a stone’s throw from
the nicest part of town and
we do—throw stones

that is—skipping them
over flooded ditches
on the way to the laundromat.

Our little home is dark,
iron bars cross the windows,
and no matter how I sweep

or mop, swamp mud
holds tight to the linoleum.
When we argue

I plan fire escape routes.
I imagine kicking out
the A/C unit, climbing down

the cinderblock wall.
Sometimes we visit your mother who
serves us stuffed flounder

with remoulade sauce.
Fish emerge from the freezer,
their pale faces

surprised to see the
uncovered chicken breast
frozen
to the shelf and ever shall be

world without end. That unbearable
pink heat of the kitchen
—we escape to the patio,

watch cockroaches pilot haphazardly
from tree to tree. Your mother drinks
in cigarette smoke

and white wine and wants to know
about our sex life. I wince
at the salt-sharpened fish, the ashen fins.

Beneath the rains, highways disappear.
We walk to the edge
of the brimming bayou,

past the rows of trees in acid
purple bloom, sewage swirling
around our rubber boots.

Families with children gather
to watch and wonder at how high
it might rise. I wonder whether

it will reach our tidy living room,
if the silt will lift into the edges of
our picture frames.


Rome Hernández Morgan is a Mexican-American, queer writer from Texas. She is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arkansas, where she is a Walton Fellow. She is nonfiction editor of Up North Lit and The Arkansas International and her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Copper Nickel, and The Journal.

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