Hunting at Wolf Lake
by Susan Farris

Hacking at cane and crackling weeds,
Mom and I work to clear a swath around the house,
only breaking to sip our bottled water
and gaze at the far levy
where we used to draw in catfish with
gentlemen’s whiskers and razor blade fins.
They’d fry up in your pan
like a crisp dollar bill, flesh soft and white,
skin silver and thin.
When the forest moves with the wind, I move with him,
spinning with the leaf-laden trees
in a rush of sun-drenched breeze and memories:

To follow his small curiosities of deer and raccoon and armadillo,
you used to send me off whistling
across heat-cracked roads
across cotton fields to where the trees grew wild and thick
4-10 slung over shoulder
to the water.
Wolf Lake lacked body here,
easing its way through palmetto and fern
in the close air.
The dark ground was soft and smooth
perfect for tracking will-o-the-wisps,
or at least my brother’s whims.
We brought back blackbirds for the cats
and squirrels for your stew
that you showed us how to gut and skin
—chuckling at our gags—
at that chipped Formica table.

It was at that same Formica
you soothed our babbling with your laughter
when we burst in frantic,
having strayed too far in our strong-armed boldness
towards Wolf Lake’s wild side when
the footsteps we had been following
tracked back
and we found ourselves being hunted
by a big bobcat.

PHOTO: “Wolf Lake, Yazoo County, Mississippi” (visityazoo.org)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a selection from my poetry collection Flooding The Delta, which takes the reader on a journey, not just through the 2011 and 2019 Backwater Floods of the Mississippi Delta, but through my grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s and my corresponding grief. While Wolf Lake is called the “Delta’s Best Kept Secret” and is famous for its camping, fishing, and water sports, I grew up with a completely different side, or, I should say, end of it. The Wolf Lake of my childhood was its far marshy point, just across a road and a field from my grandmother’s house. Here, the lake was more swamp than lake and it could turn from half-cultivated field with the field bordering it on one side to virgin swamp very quickly. In this poem, you can read for yourself this memory of what happened when my brother and I wandered outside of “hollering distance” one day while playing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Farris is an author, poet, and YouTuber from Mississippi who recently completed her MFA through Lindenwood University and is looking to make her debut in the literary world. While she is currently working on a Southern Gothic novel called The Gravedigger’s Guild as well as a poetry collection entitled Flooding The Delta, she is a proud genre hopper and has many other projects planned out. You can find her online at susanfarris.me.