It’s snowing again—river flies, —or no, seedlings, cottonwisps— rising and swirling, snowing backwards on updrafts of new heat. Between spats of praise the dun bird nips them at her ease Come back, come quick, over here, hey you
The maple’s flush: big gawky leaves flagged with the effort. The oak leaves are lower case with a distinctly Wisconsin yet, glossy, the paint still drying. A sweet heady smell of warming postindustrial water rises from the Fox: brace of trestles, Cream City mill brick This way, over here, come quick, wanna see
The smell takes me back to 1985. We’re rounding a cul-de-sac beside the flashing Cahaba. On the radio Everybodywants to rule the world— the rippling signature of time’s three-cylinder idle.
We park and take our towels down to wade the shoals in trust of the big river that can’t be crossed again, clear as it will ever be again, dead middle of summer, mussel shells caught in our toes To wit, over here, come quick, this way
A train honks—not really a whistle, but still with a force like summer crossing an inlet on the swiveled trestle. Trundling and screeching, it noses through the trees.
The Wisconsin Flag
Just says forward— westward, lakeward, oreward. 1848: great year of failed revolutions. A badger high-tails it. Pick and plow, an anchor, a cornucopia, a pyramid of little pyramids of lead balanced like a DDT chart before an uninflected blue. The miner’s hat candle like an anglerfish’s lure casts across the ancient lakebed of dental clinics and Dollarstores, inland and inward to Death’s Door, that shipwreck strait where the lake turns under the bay and the severed islands float outside of time. In the parlance of trappers, an awful, unavoidable rhyme.
Austin Segrest is the author of Door to Remain, winner of the 2021 Vassar Miller Prize. Originally from Alabama, he teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.