Massive piers vibrate with the cars
on Covington Bridge, commuting over natural stone
as soothing as a tomb lingering from the night.
I skim the shadows
near floating cafes where an occasional cook gazes out,
elbows on the railing, flipping a cigarette.
We pass with the slightest of nods.
Sun-lit glitter thrums along a rusted railroad trestle,
hums above imagined dinners neither of us could afford,
while Cincinnati vanishes into the rough corrugations
zoned commercial downstream.
The earth begins to heap into scattered clumps,
into mounds of materials, sand and aggregates, tanks
of petroleum from Ashland and Chevron, the conveyor belt
feeding dust into a cloud above a single, pickup truck.
Silt and grit
simmer in the pools speckled with flecks
of metal and globs of oil.
Water churns in a commerce of sunlight,
channeling earth organs, filtering wastes
through kidneys of spongy mud.
The city settles into sediments, layers into diluted
liquid dumps devoid of what I need or want,
so I row and row to win it back.
I make a seat.
I set a table below the swing of my arms,
my hands touching her hands.
Trees become glimpses, and then whispers.
A cluster of factories hidden in the haze,
the white-walled asphalt plants camouflaged in vapor.
At a confluence, I’m surrounded by rainbows of oil
swirling on the chocolate waters of the Great Miami River
yawning with its brown and dirty yellow tongue,
exhaling the fumes from a city’s sewage overflow, a storm
of purulent songs that even insects cannot hum.
The dark caverns of webbed branches are bent limp,
drooping into the murk of soggy roots sprung and wrung
above a long stretch of mud stench.
Unnamed things scatter on the surface
near a bloated carcass—a cow floating in the refuse,
rocking in blotches and humps.
And except for a mosquito
revving its wings past my ear, I hesitate to touch
any of it.
Mark B. Hamilton’s chapbook, 100 Miles of Heat, is available from Finishing Line Press (2017). Recent poems have appeared in Albatross, Frogpond, saltfront The Listening Eye, About Place Journal, Slipstream, Plainsongs, The Wayfarer, and abroad in Salzburg Poetry Review, Austria, and Oxford Poetry, UK. Others are forthcoming in Third Wednesday: a literary & arts journal, Comstock Review, and Weber: The Contemporary West. www.MarkBHamilton.WordPress.com