. Crossing the Swamp After about an hour hiking the swamp, I knew. A week’s rains flooded out the trail. Tall sameness of pines stood round me. Stagnant water, coffee dark, spread before me. My new boots stamped sucking cleats to nowhere on red mud. I knew! But first, denial. Was I really lost? My damp, illegible map replied: You’re lost. Sour, rotting silt smells bubbled from the swamp. I waded in, my walking rod probing soft mud. Scanning the opposite shore, I see the trail, I thought, I’ll wade it. Gradually, though, my boots began sinking. Soon I was shin deep in water. A dirty rag bobbing quietly on the water squeaked and vanished. A muskrat? Startled, I lost balance, arms flailing as if to swat wasps, boots still stuck, then flopped with a loud splash. White swamp egrets scattered. I clambered up, looked out: the trail waited, no closer. How could I slosh dense mud to get there? Cypress domes bulged out of mud. I grabbed those, linking dots through murky water, totally soaked by now, strewing a trail of gear—hat, vest—any weight to spare. I lost my sense of place, sweat blinding my eyes. A swamp root yanked me underwater by a boot’s strap—I thrashed free, frantically kicking both boots, till I surfaced, gasping like a fish in mud. The bottom was deeper now. I could swim the swamp dogpaddling. A snake scared by my churning water skimmed away. Panicked, I swung at it and lost my walking rod, kept paddling, struggling, the trail yards off. Legs and arms burning, I touched the trail when pebbly bottom suddenly struck my boots. Dripping, I rose like a Swamp Thing—not lost, not needing to write my epitaph in mud. I threw my head back, drained the dregs of my water bottle then, laughing, tossed it at the swamp. Resuming the trail, I swore by the crusted mud of my boots, by that dank baptismal water, I’d never been lost a moment in that swamp. . . Carey Jobe is a retired lawyer who has published poetry over a 45-year span. His work has recently appeared in The Orchards Poetry Journal, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, and Sparks of Calliope. He lives and writes south of Tallahassee, Florida.