Daniel Adler Down in the Delta

daniel adler
The Crossroads in Clarksdale, where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil.

This morning we went to the Waffle House. Daniel Adler got his hash browns smothered (onions), popped (jalapenos), diced (tomatoes) and capped (mushrooms), a hot cup of coffee, grits, eggs with the yolks holded. Then we went to the Full Gospel Tabernacle to see Bishop Al Green. He talked about Adam and how he turned to God when He accused him of eating from the tree, saying, you gave me woman. There was singing and clapping and it was good to remember that we’re going to die.

Fall ain’t close to bein here yet, it’s 80 degrees. But there’s a cool breeze blowing and a little white stain of cloud in the sky. The road is red and dragonflies float over close-cropped lawns and live oak and white oak arch over the road…Potato vines run wild overtaking fields and entire trees, covering them like moss, so they stand like decrepit wizards or rotting dinosaurs, life subsumed by life.

In Caohoma County on Highway 61 cotton bits line the highway like dandelion seeds and huge bales sit covered by blue or orange tarps like idle machinery. The fields have knee high rows of bolled cotton. It is flat and the reddish macadam stretches for hundreds of miles. Wet cypress trees signal the end of the delta to come.

The Mississippi River is the great divider of our country. Driving in Mississippi, east of the River, you’re in the south. Once you cross that great muddy river, it becomes more wild somehow, more rugged, as though the ghosts of the pioneers haunt the land and encourage us to continue onwards to the great Pacific. The deep south, still suffering from its battle wounds and mangled pride, has vast tracts of land untouched for decades, huge farmy plots with trees and sparse houses, and it’s not the same as the expansive rolling of the midwest because you’re approaching water, which has flattened the land so the great southern sky sinks on the horizon into a purple and green line, where water must be close because everything is so green, so richly green and open, with such thin tree limbs, light timber, cottonwood and live oak and beech and flatness, pure green flatness that, like wrinkles on a face, shows how the land has weathered over the thousands of years by water, always subject to water and rebirth and destruction in a way the middle of the country is not, which tens of millions of years ago was undersea, and has not seen water for as long, but the south is so vastly fertile it is easy to see that it has a power over the land.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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