The Creek

Sign near Dick’s Creek in Middletown, Ohio. Courtesy of the Sierra Club

Note: You can listen to this poem on Podbean.

There are places where you are blood colored. There are
places where you are milk-colored. How you run, crooking creek spine,
up the back of the bank behind the school –

the old, dusty, brick-and-window thing
with dead cold steel and frozen rust inside. I wonder

if some mornings, you watch death and steam exit its ears as you
whiplash your sempiternal self, choked with filth,
on your perpetual journey through our town until you
careen headfirst into our great river nearby. But I worry
about the great river –

you’ve been raped by the steel mill,
hell and brimstone tumbled into you,
the lust of industry. You bear the fire of it
on your back and in your claws, digging them
into the sides of the land. I am

thirteen years old,
almost tatterdemalion,
with eyes encircled by black bold print as if to shout them. A girl,
with a drawl-scarred, Marlboro stench, double-wide for shelter. I carry
matches near you and whisper
Cuyahogan incantations near your breath to flirt with danger, to call it to me
like something greater than the comet sighting or
the pizza parlor eruption. So many nothings
make news in this fucking town.

So I watch you. Underneath the shadow of dirt-cast houses
you pass, but you cannot wash away
the sins of the coke plant and blast furnace grime. You are no
Jordan, you are no Ganges. You shudder yourself, unholy,
with red and white sin, with the
funk of sick green chlorine fingers that choke
fish, birds, and young children who wander too close. I can do nothing
but pray for your absolution.

Poem © 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
Original poem was published in Issue #8 of MediaVirus Magazine on March 1, 2010.

5 Responses to The Creek

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  3. julespaige says:

    I read this first because I have a muddy creek in bordering my back yard. A creek of muddy water, yet still full of life. Though I would not drink or sup of it’s contents.

    I know of an area spring, near a school – let to become a collector of foul offerings. On public land, yet out of sight out of mind. Your verse makes me want to don my rubber boots and get elbow length rubber gloves and fill a bag full of trash that chokes the song it tries to sing.
    I can hope perhaps that someone else has stepped up to bat…but I would have to go and look…

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