I Ain’t No Bald Cypress

A skinny face and skinny neck.

Two old boots at the foot of his bed.

Leather soles worn skinny too.

Quiet in his room.

A car driving the highway across the pasture

sounds like someone breathing

next to him.

A restful sleep

with deep, complacent breaths.

A contented feeling

foreign to his skinny


Old boots on his feet now.


Pointed toe-box muddy from standing at the shore of this Swamp.

Murky, black water like an oil slick.

A stand of bald cypress rooted in the muck.

Shiny surface of the pond like a mirror makes the trees look as deep as they are tall.

Their trunks just above the water’s surface look stretched.

The way skin looks when pulled too far from the bone.

A breeze barely felt

makes the black pond try lapping at his feet

the way someone curls their finger

when they want you closer.

But he steps back so it can’t.

With that muddy, pointed toe-box

he kicks

a pinecone, fallen from a loblolly nearby.

Ripples on the pond’s surface now

bend the reflections of

the bald cypress stand.

When the ripples dissipate

and the reflections return,

he says, audible only to

this swamp,


“I knew you weren’t that deep.”


Getting sunny now, the early morning chill starting to

move off.

Making way for afternoon.

The quiet room still quiet.

The bed unmade.

Old, skinny-soled boots gone now.

A car drives the highway across the pasture.

Poem by Kevin Wayne Zerbe

Kevin Wayne Zerbe is a writer and ecologist. His work is the welcomed burden of flowing water, cold hands, conservator of natal streams. A life in the field is what he writes. The bodies of he and his wife are lost now in a megalopolis, but their hearts and souls roam the hidden valleys of the Northern Rockies.


1 Comment

  1. “a contented feeling foreign to his skinny heart”
    Deep as the swamp he writes about, beautiful!

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