OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 4

Jessica Cogar

THE RIVER IS BEAUTIFUL BUT WHICH RIVER ARE WE TALKING ABOUT

Ohio’s third season is deconstruction    as in:     what is being built will never be built       as in:  Ohio asks for my trust and I give it frequently     trust that spills          I ask Ohio what to do when a spill becomes a flow and it says leave me

Do you know that the Iroquois call the Ohio river         a creek       that continuously spills/gives
I learn after that fact                          river is for things like     the Mississippi
                    that the Grand River is not big enough for its name

                     that Ohio doesn’t even own most of its river.

The Hockhocking is not a river either          bottle/gourd spill-flow that sings its beginning
I fail to the learn the song of waterfall           I ask Ohio to sing it again and it says we call it the
                                                                               Hocking now, the maps you’re reading are outdated.  

And what of the river that oozes rather than flows        where one does not drown but decay
                  I ask Ohio what to do when a flow becomes an ooze and it says            Burn  

The crooked jawbone was river enough to burn      Cuyahoga cried and Ohio looked away, no need
                                                                                   to commemorate a second burning.

I stand in the river of many fish and its water says     take     there is plenty   I ask this river what to call it and it says Home     as in: always enough            as in: no invitation necessary.   I go back to this river in winter and summer        there are signs that warn against eating its fish   

 

the river says              trust me

                        the river feeds Ohio’s gods just fine           I am one of the beautiful river people     it does not matter which river I came from  

Jessica Cogar is a northeast Ohio native who earned her MA in creative writing from Ohio University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Santa Ana River Review, small po[r]tions, decomP MagazinE and elsewhere. Recently she was a finalist for the Arcturus Magazine's 2017 Swati Award in Poetry sponsored by the Chicago Review of Books. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Mississippi.