Sinnissippi

rocky from the start
those first steps to memories
kept / crumbling / lost / remade

the Weise’s parking lot
a string of 1950s ramblers
along Laurel Drive

an elbow of Midwestern America
between Crosby Street
and Hemlock Lane

3 miles to the east bank
I knew nothing of Fordham Dam

the gravel / bedrock / long stretches
of mud and silt

those very first days
of school / the crossing guard
who would ask me each morning

how old I was
so he could hear me declare
I’m free

the slow return
of the Higgins’ eye pearly mussel
and gravel chub

the Belvidere tornado of 1967
tore off the convertible top
to my dad’s red Austin-Healey

while he watched / 1 of 45 twisters
reported that day / 58 people dead
by sundown

we had a basement with steep
for a 3-year-old stairs leading
to a dollhouse in the dark

details long gone
the rocky river ford
a passage for crossing again

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