It starts with a river. Green hills,
and promising flatland beneath them.
All these trees go, and get lugged out
of the clearing. The stone near the water
is brought to the place where the woods
once stood, and also the felled trees that
lived there before, and this is how the town
rises from the ground. Structures answer
the needs of the people there. A church,
a school, a jail, a cemetery. Occupations
grow, more answers. The doctor who
interprets fevers, the midwife, a witness
to how bodies respond to air the first
time they feel it, the man who says
that the town thrives because it was
intended to. Gratitude solves everything.
When plants are plentiful and people live,
the land is grateful to the town for
their goodness. And when it snows for
an extra month, or the little girl drowns
in the river, they are told to look at
pain and then to look past it. To trust
that this land found them, that when
a glacier began melting and dripping
over stone, the river was already
dreaming of the town, calling to it.
Hannah Stephenson is a poet, editor, and instructor living in Columbus, Ohio. She earned her M.A. in English from The Ohio State University in 2006. Her poems have appeared recently in Huffington Post, Contrary, MAYDAY, qarrtsiluni, and The Nervous Breakdown; her full-length collection In the Kettle, the Shriek is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press. www.thestorialist.com.