Just a word

All the way from the Midwest he came and talked about how where he lived was why he wrote and about how the great muddy river there was like blood through an artery in his heart, snaking through the floodplain, winking like a great brown eel. At dinner his laughter lifted unpoetic, unarcane the glass tipped quickly to his lips to let the ice cubes clink. ''The water here is good,'' he said, drinking slow, ''Not like the Mississippi silt back home.'' I nodded refreshed to hear an author give to water such a clean plain word as ''good.''

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