As we drive through Ohio,
my son names rivers
we must cross: 
the St. Joseph, the Tiffin,
the Bad. He seeks
for blue lines that move
without graph-paper
s they intersect
the interstate.

Maumee. Toussaint,
which he can’t pronounce
because, he says,
it looks French. Portage.
His finger moves

eastward along the route
to the Sandusky and
the Huron, the Vermillion
and the Black. “You know,”
he says, “there’s a lot
of rivers here
I never noticed.”

And it is true-
the road rolls over them.
Over their serpentine paths,
a straightaway
hedged with barriers

almost manages
to make rivers
green-edged, brown-bodied
waterways glimpsed
briefly at 65 miles an hour,
no more important
than the ubiquitous
K-Mart or Sunoco station.

So many times I’ve
traveled this road
with its rivers familiar as
porch rails or doorknobs:
after the Rock, the Cuyahoga,
the Mahoning. Highway
at noon adopts a water sheen, a course
navigable only by illusion;
we ply our way across Ohio-
river by river.

-Ann E. Michael, 2002

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published in I have my own song for it: Modern poems of Ohio (Akron University Press, 2002) and Water-Rites (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2012); Original images:,; Visual created by Bethany Morgan. 

Audio sourced from the banks of the Maumee River, ⓒ Midstory Media, 2018.


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