For Ed Roberson
A slow summer blizzard
of cottonwood seed flying white
in a warm wind, some touching
down softer than fingertips
on the river, its surface today all shine
and deflection. Walnut and hickory
branches upside down
wobble in passing silver.
The biggest trees, the cottonwoods
with trunks six feet through, stand
back from the bank, roots reaching
into two centuries of summers.
What if there were a book of poems,
Ed asks, about the long history
of lynching, each poem about
a different lynching?
There is the sound of the current
pulling against its bank and bridges
and a sound from inside the water,
what the river gets after
making its run south again
and again, in the scar of its bed.
And the sound of high limbs shifting
in the breeze, like the cry
of a rope knotted tight
to a white oak or maple
two-trunked in reflection,
the dark body of the river
hanging from the branches.
DAN FLIEGEL holds an MFA from Northwestern University. He is a poetry reader for TriQuarterly.