Altamaha – Matthew Hunt

It is no small thing to be forgotten.
After centuries of birth, and endless ghosts,
To find oneself without a gathering,
A narrative of beginning and purpose,
Stumps that rise from depthless silt,
Crawling, like the first creatures, onto the land,
We bred what impulses for air were held on our lips,
Breath, and endless heartbeats, arose from the push
Of oar into ripple, of foot onto sand, of the groaning
Of weight against the slow and endless current,
Draining blackness and heat from the piedmont,
Thick and oppressive as history, or the air that sits
Unmoving, like August, like the Precambrian,
Buried in alluvial time, its violence unseen,
Dropping in eddies barely rounded,
To the deep and deeper dream that time
May be measured and felt.

Great cities might have risen in lands both far and old,
To drain and to feed the estuaries and the tides
Or demand their return to the quaysides,
Laden with stocks and the bangles of trade
The river is the bridge as well as the chasm, and flow little matters
To the pulse of export and desire.

But all is noiseless, save for the water’s break
To capture the hatch of midge, rising in late morning,
Or the chorus of cicadas, electric in the evening hum.
None have found their way,
Though all around the freeways beat
With that same steady throb
This land is dark and unknowable,
Even to those few who trespass here.

Forget, and forget
That we ever trod the wilds, that we ever tamed their secrets,
Exposed them as fraudulent superstition,
Here there is no dream of light,
No shafts that break the low moors or thickets,
Worm into the astringent drifts of the bitter waters,
Drawing the skin around the bones like a desert
The broad and dimming floods that cover all with life,
Yet bury like the endless sands,
The night is not endless, but it is unyielding,

Forget and forget these unclaimed wilds,
And that there are wilds still.

Matthew Hunt is a burgeoning poet, outdoorsman, and a traveler of the world. He was born and raised in southern Georgia. Matt worked for years in a bookstore surrounded by the comfort of the written word. He currently lives in Washington, DC with his wife and children.


  1. I love the imagery unleashed in this poem.

  2. “Burgeoning”? You almost fooled me. Thanks for sharing. Well done.

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