Way-Seeking Mind

Gully and Bayou

By Neil Ellis Orts


THIS FARM BOY WANDERED THE ACRES of woods and explored the gully. I sat under the cedar that grew on a high bank, roots exposed, waiting for the right number of rains to let go. There was moss on the ground, green as early summer, which looked like a forest as viewed from an airplane. I wrote bad poetry there for a college class, capturing only one image the professor found interesting: the trickling water of a recent rain sounded like the voice of God.

The prayers prayed there were the most intense of my life. Questions of, pleadings over vocation and sexuality brought eventual (never immediate) revelations that the God I prayed to is a God of surprise.

This city man walks the trails of a bayou metropolis. Skyscrapers throw reflection and shadow. Cicadas sing over the traffic and the local cover band playing a downtown bar. The cypress and willow grow wild until someone somewhere decide they shouldn’t. Dragonflies hover in the slanted afterwork light. The murky, slow waters, creeping along, carrying cups and wrappers seaward, grab my attention. The voice of God, raspier, hoarser than the trickle of recent rains in the woods, still speaks. It is low, easy to ignore. I pause, not often enough, to listen.

In pausing, I sometimes remember the gully. In listening, I hear the echoes of decades gone waters, prayers, and answers. Revelations continue. I am buoyed, sustained.

Neil Ellis Orts

Neil Ellis Orts writes in Houston, Texas. His creative writing has appeared in a number of small press journals and anthologies and his novella, Cary and John, is available from Wipf and Stock. Signs of spirit grab his attention. He sees them everywhere.

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