August 3, 1972 [Deliverance]

It’s hot out--the air thick and uncooperative, denying easy breathing, movement, thought. The cicadas make a racket like busted little dynamos, threatening to unmoor themselves and throw sparks in the dry trees. Is the South like this in August, or worse? Is it like this going down the river in Deliverance?

In James Dickey’s poem, “For the Last Wolverine,” the promise is made: “I take you as you are / And make of you what I will, / Skunk-bear, carcajou, bloodthirsty / Non-survivor.” It’s a prayer and a eulogy, a fierce celebration and red-faced admission. In the movie Deliverance, Burt Reynolds’ Lewis bares his arms and sets his jaw and digs in, as the weekend keeps its promises and they all tumble into a new reservoir, the last of themselves, “small, filthy, unwinged” and “crouching / Alone” in their own guilty dreams, where they’ve made themselves extinct, and have to keep on living with it.


Popular Posts