A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I woke this morning remembering our room in Paris which looked out on the Seine.
But we’ve never been to Paris.
Oh, of course we have. We took long walks along the river, and there was that old man with thousands of used books lined up on tables, and you found me a copy of James Wright’s ‘Beautiful Ohio.’
Do you mean the poem? ‘Beautiful Ohio’ is a poem, not a book.
Actually, ‘Beautiful Ohio’ is a river. Perhaps I’m thinking of the time years ago when we had a room in Martin’s Ferry that looked out on the river, the beautiful Ohio River, and we took long walks in the crisp air. The maples were in their autumn glory, I remember.
Yes, you picked up a leaf from the ground, and on the back of the leaf you wrote a poem to me, something about leaves. There was also a dog in the poem. There’s always a dog in your poems.
You’re thinking of the Youghiogheny River. And it wasn’t you, it was someone else.
You walked along the Youghiogheny River with someone else?
Oh, no, it was you, always you, but you may have been someone else at the time. Someone who looked like you and wrote your poems.
Well, at least we’ll always have Paris. And the poems we wrote there.
Yes, we’ll always have Paris where Ella sang so beautifully about the springtime, and we’ll have other cities and other rivers where we’ve never been. And you and I will always sit on the grassy slope of the cemetery above Martin’s Ferry, Ohio and look down at the valley and the bridge to West Virginia where the mountains are steep and beautiful, and we’ll always love Appalachia in autumn.
That wasn’t me. You must have done those things with someone else,
No, it was you. It was always you. Only you.
Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi. His newest poetry collection is American Ash (Ragged Sky, 2020).
Copyright 2021 Michael Simms