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Green maple leaves

Two Poems by Austin Segrest

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Welcome to Your Life

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
Everybody wants 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 SegrestAustin 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.

Header photo by Ulrike Leone, courtesy Pixabay.

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