Artist Simon Gunning speaks
At first the Mississippi
seemed stubborn and closed,
not much at all—wide, flat, and pale.
But I hadn’t looked closely enough.
The real river was industrial,
hostile, and dangerous.
In the sun rippling the sullen water,
in the smells of coal tar,
wet rope, and diesel,
in detritus and decay,
I sensed its energy, its life force.
Maybe that was why I stayed.
I had stopped in New Orleans
on my way from Australia
to art school in England
I had a scholarship to
but I never got there.
Gradually, Louisiana wound
its tendrils into me
and wouldn't let me go.
I painted the river in all its weathers,
as it flowed from north to south.
Beyond the skeletal ruins of a dock
loomed a monolithic freighter,
half lost in haze. Below the placid surface
at the river’s mouth, roiling
currents surged into the Gulf Stream
at the start of their global journey.