By Kelly Garriott Waite

Even still, the family sells syrup
from the front porch of their decaying
home on Route 44. Again,
the Cuyahoga has overgrown its banks

and leaves a piece of itself behind,
weeping in tall grasses beside the green bridge
that carries travelers into the village,
where the speed limit jumps from 45 to 25

and the cops sit quietly in their patrol
cars in the McDonald’s parking lot,
or the entrance to the bike trail
where locomotives once huffed into town.

My father was a do-er, never sat still
for a moment until he was forced, by
the cancer, to sit in his beat-up
recliner and wait for the end,

converting my mother and his children
to a life of doing, busy as the bees he
kept, or the Cuyahoga flowing just
outside our home.

But was the river taking its own action,
or did it respond to external forces?
Gravity and the addition of water, which
increased the speed at which it flowed,

caused the body of water to spill outside
its banks. Really, the term body
of water is a misnomer. There is no
clear beginning, no true end, only

a flowing from one to the other.
Is there a you I can point to?
A me in which I believe?
Are we, too, formed yet formless,

flowing one to the the other,
overspilling our boundaries,
limits set by law, by rules, by cultural
norms, get a gold star for finishing first?

The hardware burned down.
The last bank’s leaving town.
The dollar store is thriving,
And the leafless trees, stripped naked

of their bark, are white and ghostly
mannequins, posed with their dead arms outthrust
while their feet rot in too much water—
too much, too much—

like the dummies in the window
of the old clothing store,
also gone, where my sister once sold
dresses and denim jackets, too. ■




Kelly Garriott Waite writes from Oberlin, Ohio, where she is researching the second owner of the historical home she and her husband own. Her work has appeared in The Hopper, The Citron Review, Tributaries: The Fourth River, and elsewhere.

Cover image of Mantua, Ohio by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0) and edited by Belt Magazine.

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