The Ohio winds around hills
and streams down the hollows
passes steel mills, brick yards and scrap yards.
It carries tug boats, pushes barges, and hauls
black coal stripped from the mountainsides.
The Ohio’s littered banks
are home to train yards
filled with graffiti-covered box cars
rusting relics of the Southern Pacific
and the Norfolk and Southern railroads.
Erector set bridges span
the murky river and link Ohio
to “Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia,”
the Weirton Mill,
and Homer Laughlin China Company.
In towns called Powhaton Point,
Shadyside, Bellaire, and East Liverpool,
houses are stacked on hillsides
with an array of slate,
tin and asbestos shingled roofs.
Ball fields and corn fields,
concrete parking lots and shopping malls
are full of busy people
who fail to appreciate
the river’s charity.
There are roads with cryptic names like Goose Run,
Pinch Run, Riddles Run, and Rush Run.
There are towns named Brilliant,
Costonia and Calcutta,
each with their own secrets.
North on Route 7 bars advertise Karaoke
and all you can eat fish fries.
A plethora of car lots and gift shops,
bait stores and gun supplies
dot the countryside with
a never-ending display
of marketing profanity,
but the river rolls on
never compromising her dignity
never surrendering her boundaries.
stand like beacons of redemption,
while billboards promote“Hell Fire Fireworks,”
“Gentlemen’s” clubs, sleazy motels
and the “Forbidden Zone Exit.”
Still the river moves along
around the hills and down the hollows
proud and powerful
chanting and rippling with satisfaction
a stalwart testament to her tenacity…
Copyright © Susan Jeavons | Year Posted 2019