of the earth’s vessels, veins.
A girl with dark eyes
watches semis run, diamonds
circling the ring finger
of her dreams.
A ferry has run, the pride
of a woman whose husband
called this place Sarahville, a name
changed by men who thought of Corinth
but then a citadel, a market grown
on a shepherd’s hill, minerals traded
in a fortress. The Cherokee have crossed,
a dollar a head. River traffic
has docked at the wharf: showboats
with melodeons and barges
of fluorspar through the lock
and dam. Warehouses fill
until the flood wall is built, until
the dam is moved upriver
to the largest twin locks system
in the world. Like the rest,
she wants to go: iron to water,
through miter gate leaves. A girl
with dark eyes watches
semis run, hubcaps diamonds
in the sun above old
paths of melodeons,
bottomland forest, forest
on the slope, post oak flats, prairie,
the mound on the ridge, limestone,
shale outcroppings, creek, the pits
that indicate homes, chert, and the people
who moved between, using
each before being buried.
With the terrific sound of the earth
turning inside out, awesome in tons,
the Springfield and Herrin seams
were upheaved day and night,
the light east of the County Line Road
constant, brilliant as if the heart
of a star was burning out.
The sap of the silver maple
and the weight of the river birch,
the mines stripped across
them all with heavy machines.
The panther crossed the ridge
on its way.
Sweet everlasting spreads leaves, each with its one vein,
through Eight Mile, Four Mile, Mud, Conant.
The prairies form from old forests or lakes. Fire is force
at Plum Creek, Flat, Crow, Dutch, Smooth, Horse.
They broke the sod with its deep rods away from the fire
in Grand Cote, Jordan, Looking Glass, Poor, Old Pearl.
Prairie, green, no one remembers such names
but historians and great-grandfathers who come
to meet death on earth. Butterflies draw poison from milkweed
and, as monarchs, rule bluestem, allium, ambrosia, goldenrod,
pasture rose, senna, dandelion, quinine, cordgrass. Read
white, seeds, sweet, all everlasting to me
in my father’s books mildewing on their edges, in his journals
of what he’s seen, in what I’ve found where grain and coal now fall.
Angie Macri is the author of Underwater Panther (forthcoming from Southeast Missouri State University Press), winner of the Cowles Poetry Book Prize. Her recent work appears in Arts & Letters, Heron Tree, and Sugar House Review. An Arkansas Arts Council fellow, she teaches in Little Rock.