Bayou Baby

Matty Layne Glasgow

Hurricane Harvey, August 27, 2017

I.

When I was a child, I followed
a nutria up out the ditch, which
is to say we came from the same
place. My little hands smeared
muddy paw prints. My fingers
sunk into a water-swept incline.
I couldn’t catch up to those buck
teeth, to that grey fur & snake
tail all awash in ocean rain. I said
Bye, you. I asked Where you going?
I said I’m scared of this water, too.

II.

A woman rose from that soggy refuge—
orchid bloom & alligator teeth in her
dirty blond hair. I called her mother.
I asked Mama, where you been? I said
I just wanna stay
by you.
Her eyes were the severe green
of that dangerous sky. Her body
was covered in ocean—water so
dirty it glistened like a silver gown.
She said I’m gonna wear this storm out.

III.

I learned to love a man the same
way I love the bayou—I got used
to his beauty. How much can you
take for me? How much will you
hold before you crest? I know you
just want to protect me. I can’t stay.

IV.

There are two dried petals & 13 teeth
on my daddy’s mantel. He just sits at
home alone, waiting for the dirty water
to rise, to bring all that death to his
 
front porch. He’d welcome it inside, too,
if he didn’t love sitting in the rain so much.
& he’d leave if he could walk on water,
if he had somewhere else to go.

V.

There’s a tuft of grey fur atop the fence
out back, a thin-scaled tail that hangs &
dips in the silver flow. A voice escapes
those buck teeth. Where you going? it asks.
Bye, you.

Feature Date

Series

Selected By

Share This Poem

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Print This Poem

Share on print

Matty Layne Glasgow is the author of the collection deciduous qween, selected by Richard Blanco as the winner of the 2017 Benjamin Saltman Award and forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2019. Matty’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Crazyhorse, BOAAT, Muzzle Magazine, Collagist, Rattle, and elsewhere. He received his MFA in creative writing and environment from Iowa State University and currently reads poetry for Adroit Journal.

The Missouri Review

Summer 2018

Columbia, Missouri

University of Missouri

Editor
 Speer Morgan

Managing Editor
Marc McKee

Associate Editor
Evelyn Somers

Poetry Editor
Jennifer McCauley

The Missouri Review, founded in 1978, is one of the most highly-regarded literary magazines in the United States and for the past thirty-four years we’ve upheld a reputation for finding and publishing the very best writers first. We are based at the University of Missouri and publish four issues each year. Each issue contains approximately five new stories, three new poetry features, and two essays, all of which is selected from unsolicited submissions sent from writers throughout the world.

New, emerging, and mid-career writers whose work has been published in The Missouri Review have been anthologized over 100 times in Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Poetry, The O. Henry Prize Anthology, and The Pushcart Prize. We are also pleased to be the first to have published the fiction of many emerging writers, including Katie Chase, Nathan Hogan, Jennie Lin, Susan Ford, and Elisabeth Fairchild.

The Missouri Review is, quite simply, one of the best literary journals in the world.”
—Robert Olen Butler

“I’ve admired The Missouri Review for years. . . . It’s one of a half-dozen literary magazines I always read.”
—Joyce Carol Oates

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.