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Swamp Thing Has a Moment on the Coast by Jack B. Bedell

“To have risked so much in our efforts to mold nature to our satisfaction, and yet to

have failed in achieving our goal would indeed be the final irony. Yet this, it seems, is

our situation.” —Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

When Linda and I first pitched the idea of our growth formula to the government, they had us meet with the Wildlife and Fisheries folks to make sure what we had planned wasn't going to disrupt anything. Or cause some kind of chain reactive trouble demically. All those enviro-bureaucrats kept flailing around, pulling at their hair, quoting Rachel Carson and John Muir at us like we were trying to hike up Mt. Sinai to pour water on their burning bush. But all I could see then was sand where there could be forest and empty fields where there could be food growing right where people needed it most. We just wanted a quick fix to an immediate problem. Standing at the edge of this swamp now, though, it’s much easier to understand how slowly tolls are collected on this earth, how our debts accumulate offshore in the warming waters and come in every, single day for payment, in some kind of ageless cadence, a tempo we have no means of controlling. Low tide, high tide. Full moon, new moon. Cause, effect. Damage, repair, damage, repair, damage. And yet the breeze here is so nice, the sounds of the waves as pleasant as they can be.


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collection is Against the Woods’ Dark Trunks (Mercer University Press, 2022). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.


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