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confluences - the Yazoo
confluences - the Yazoo

The Yazoo river is a turbid little stream, as far as I can tell. It has maybe about the same flow as the Crow in Minnesota, or something similar.

The fascinating thing about the Yazoo here is that this is not the Yazoo's original streambed. It is, rather, the original streambed of the Mississippi River. When white people originally settled here, Vicksburg was on the Mississippi. It was as important as it was in the Civil War not because the guns on its ridgeline controlled the little Yazoo, but because they controlled the Mighty Miss.

Grant's Union army tried to do here what a different Union army did successfully up near New Madrid: to cut a path around Confederate defenders and attack their rear, by creating a new Mississippi channel that cut off the peninsula that created the hairpin turn in front of Vicksburg. They failed, and the result of that failure was the siege of Vicksburg and all of the suffering that ensued.

Less than twenty years later, the impetuous river just went ahead and took that new route all by itself. It cut off poor, long-suffering Vicksburg from the river that had been its raison d'etre.

Less than two decades after that, the Army Corps rerouted the Yazoo. Instead of meeting the Mississippi well upstream of Vicksburg, as it had prior, now it flows down through the old Miss's channel, past downtown.

Is this a confluence? It's water from one place meeting water from another place, so yes. But there's a certain foreshadowedness to this meeting, or something. You are meeting me through this route I remember inhabiting myself. This new water is coming in from an old version of myself. You are brand new, and yet also my ghost.