Plague of Horned Serpents
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Plague of Horned Serpents

At Rock Port, Missouri, where rampagingspring floods gutted Interstate 29,we are blockaded—forcedinto a circuitous detour of corn-fenced roads.Hours later we arrive in Council Bluffs,discover the river we dodged most of the dayroils, races and scrapes against the back doorsof our hotel and its sister casino—a wall of concrete and protruding pumps—unsettling our sense of protection against a super flood.

At Elk Point, South Dakota, we part companywith the thrashing river—only to catch it againat dusk in Gettysburg, South Dakota.Our hotel sits on bluffs overlookingan artificially widened—and calmerMissouri River—where lights from fishing boatsdot the basin. Walleye must be biting.

Our relatives who live across the wayon the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservationsay the river has risen five feetand thousands of homes are gone—drownedwith little warning of the deluge—destruction that brings to mind storiesof old Mi’kmaq monsters called Ji-bich’gam—Horned Serpent Persons.

There is snowmelt yet to come,a torrent that will seekits ancient ox-bow channels,watersheds and tributaries—a torrent blockedby concrete walls,dams and levees—caged inside of reservoirs—harnessed or unleashedby public servant people,horned serpent persons. [End Page 72]

Alice M. Azure

Alice M. Azure’s recent work has appeared in you are here: the journal of creative geography; Against the Current; and Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time: Indigenous Thoughts Concerning the Universe. She released two books in 2011—Along Came a Spider (Bowman Books), and Games of Transformation (Albatross Press), the latter selected as poetry book of 2012 by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers.

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