Fire on the Cuyahoga
The river burned only a few times,
but nobody here forgets it.
You'd think they'd keep the place up a little better—
look at the candy wrappers, empty bottles, rubbers.
Who knows what else is dumped after dark?
Beauty is as beauty does, I suppose, and of course
all rivers should be beautiful, not necessarily
the untouched beauty of a head cheerleader
at her beginning of things—
but more like the worn kind of beauty she'll grow into,
after she runs off with her married man,
bringing back the three kids, one of them always sick,
and her working minimum wage at the KMart,
the new boyfriend with raw hands and grimy fingernails
out back building a barbeque pit, trying to start
the fire that will stun her into loving him.
-Cheryl Snell (Juked)