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.