Saints and Waters

Fred Von Drasek

A crop duster on the deck pumps DDT into the lake cabin—
ah, the year was right for summering, but not for breathing. Oh,
years enough ahead for all the kids’ breath and the years
they won’t breathe, now. There’s still the trip to the capitol,
there’s going to the Big U, there’s drinking in front of a good band,  
nearly a boyhood dream. Drag your head out of the bar 
and see the lights along Lake Street: the shuttered hash-houses,
“All Live” shows and buckets of blood all the way to St. Paul.
The river goes under the street, and the barges loll coal 
down the river which rolls starlight and bridgelight
back up to comfort the barge rat junkies. Downriver, 
two dicks look out the barred windows of the bankside jailhouse
past the High Bridge to Cherokee Heights—once, the quality    
lived in the hillside houses. Now, in one, a three-martini man
looks back across the river to the green dome of St. Paul’s; 
in another, a woman, her son curled up fireside with GameBoy,
thinks back to the round-engined biplane winging over
the plowed field lakeside, the cloud surrounding her, 
the red eyes and headache, now the bloom of warmth in her chest
to be here, to be alive. To the south, the river runs wide
and far, far south. Then the sea.