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Two Poems by John Zheng

Saturday in Town

after Eudora Welty’s In the Bag

The woman laughs heartily
in front of the store posted
with a sign of Old Gold,
even her fedora tilts slightly.

She stands there, her left arm
akimbo, in her right hand
a shopping bag, and
a purse under her right arm.

What delights her so much?
Her voice, a tendril of sunray,
twines Welty’s arm for a shot
before she walks away

to snap a woman standing
alone and window-shopping.


River Viewing

after Eudora Welty’s Mississippi River

When my eighty-year-old father comes
to see us in the Delta, he wants to see

the Old Man River. A week after he’s here,
we drive to the River Park to get

a close-up view, but after having
one picture taken with the Big Muddy,

dad staggers back to the car
because the wind is bone-piercing.

He lives in a metropolis with
ten bridges spanning the Long River.

Each morning he goes to the levee
to takes a walk with sunrise.

During his month-long stay,
river viewing is a weekend must.

We drive to Helena, Arkansas
where an elevated boardwalk leads us

to the riverside for a good view
of the waters flowing with sun glitter

and to Vicksburg where the bridge
floats in and out of the morning fog.

Dad also sees the bridges in Natchez
and Greenville. Upon returning home,

he calls, saying he will remember
the blue sky, the flatland, and his quiet stay.

But I regret not taking him to
the Navajo Bridge or the Golden Gate.


John Zheng teaches at Mississippi Valley State University where he edits Valley Voices: A Literary Review. He is the author of A Way of LookingEnforced Rustication and The Landscape of Mind. He has received two artist fellowships from Mississippi Arts Commission. His poetry has appeared in journals, including Arkansas Review, Louisiana Literature and Mississippi Review.

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