“The Bridge”

by Robert Miltner

        For Christina Brooks

Poor Black River, you are the ugly stepsister
in this sad fairy tale of Ohio rivers.  Nowhere

near as lovely as the Huron, Vermillion, Sandusky,
Auglaize, or Maumee, you languish from neglect

and the scars of continued industrial decimation.
No one kisses your mouth each night at the shore.

Decorated in neither boardwalks, piers, nor riverside
restaurants, it is tattooed in graffiti and hard shadows

under its bridges for you.  Oh you ruined old maid,
sleeping in the doorways of boarded up buildings

on Broadway, what is to become of you?  All your
former lovers—steel, automotive, shipbuilding—

have left town looking for work.  As I cross over
on your rusty bridge, I hear the sound of the tires

humming like a swarm of angry yellowjackets.
And when I close my eyes, inevitability’s melody

becomes the north coast soundtrack for this country
and county. For our region.  Our state.  Our heart.

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