Delta Sunset in Summer: A Promise for Tomorrow

A Mississippi Delta Sunset on Hopson-Pixley Road near Clarksdale.

A Mississippi Delta Sunset on Hopson-Pixley Road near Clarksdale.

By Poor William
(Clarksdale, Mississippi)

As a late-afternoon field rider, I now realize why my father, Roundman, used to ramble tortoise-like down the middle of turn rows checking crops and nervously biting worn fingernails during summer, searching for non-existent rain clouds. I can still smell tobacco, newsprint, and mounds of rotting cottonseed smoldering with moisture in the truck bed!

Sunset on a Delta turn row—usually a dirt road running beside a field——is peerless and unlimited in color valuations and combinations. One sees so much when on a slow roll with nowhere to go, but “over there.”

Also, sunset signals a Delta given: clusters of unseen, leaderless locusts shrilly droning in unison an undulating white noise for the initiated, translated as a paean of piercing buzzes for the unaccustomed. Boisterous emissions from the chubby, lacy-winged, green and black bugs with thin, white striations can be deafening among the ponderous foliage in the heat of a summer evening; but from a distance, the cacophonic whine grounds Deltans to the soil that raised ’em and will one day welcome them home.

Copses of hard woods corralled by shadowy fringes at sunset beckon and serve warning to both voyeur and prey. Skittish whitetails nettled with perpetual fear silently prance at field’s edge, hungry for the farmer’s produce.

The occasional owl, owner of the night skies, stoically screeches an ominous reminder to flightless nocturnals, portending the all too sudden swoosh of dark and silent death awaiting the low and furry.

Doves rise from the fields in groups of two, four, and more as summer ambles toward autumn. Crickets and bullfrogs add expression to the chorus of locusts amidst darkening hues reshaping the horizon, while rubber tires contravene the pristine–perplexing mammal and riparian alike.

Redwing blackbirds linger, perched on the tallest stalk, warbling the evenings last “conk-a-reee,” just as the annoying, high-pitched buzz of a mosquito, smallest of the blood suckers, rings in one’s ear, signaling time to go home.

Convincingly, God’s humid, prismatic palette gently emotes into evening like a slow, rhythmic Delta tune settles the core of an agrarian after a long day of toil!

Fear not the night; morning cometh soon! Another day gone, another to come—always different, always spectacular, always purposeful…pw



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