Chris Tusa


for Leigh Mayeaux, whose body was never found.

Maybe he straddles you in the soft mud,
his eyes the brown shells of beetles,
your voice a yellow-jacket buzzing
in the sweaty throat of his palm.

Maybe sunlight trickles onto the ground
as the sharp black wings of crows ripple
in the curved steel of his switchblade,
or maybe he has a gun.

In my mind the end is always the same:
your pale body twisted in the muddy mouth
of a bayou where rusty lures flicker like flashbulbs
and the spotted scales of bass blink

through green lashes of eel grass.
I see you drifting through a cloud of cattails,
hair tangled with leaves, lips curled
around your final watery word.


Two strange women whisper
through a cloud of baby’s breath,
their lips the creased petals
of poinsettias, their voices muffled
in a thick Mississippi drawl.

They pile jelly doughnuts
carelessly on their plates,
their polyester blouses freckled
with white tears of powdered sugar.

While they smile behind their napkins
I think of your startled body glowing
in the bruised light of the Bogue Falaya.

I watch them gossip over coffee,
listen to their remarks fall
like the snow outside.

Poems from Inventing An End (Lone Willow Press), © 2002, Chris Tusa. Used by permission of the author.

Chris Tusa was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he spent his childhood. He holds a B.A and an M.A from Southeastern Louisiana University and an M.F.A. from the University of Florida, and his poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, Spoon River, The Louisville Review, Tar River Poetry, The New York Quarterly, The Southeast Review, and others. With the help of a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, he was able to complete his first chapbook of poems, Inventing an End, which was published in May of 2002 by Lone Willow Press. Presently, he teaches in the English Department at Louisiana State University.