you might as well call it tender— the bridge
downtown climbing the dawn like morning
glory on a trellis. i have found joy where i was told
there could be no joy. sometimes that is my home
the soot-throated sighs and the valley they hover
over; where my dead lie in pine on a miner’s
pension, broken-backed or bent spirit.
this is where i was young, knowing little
of history, crawling into what only looked
abandoned. every fence jumped in the diamond city
named the most unhappy place in america
since i’ve moved away.
they don’t use the affirmative
but i’ve been sadder everywhere.
the susquehanna remembers before the earth
was tapped, when what we had was promise.
the river has never known its own name.
only tied to bone, out here, on this farm, a ramshackle
bridge to get us from one side of a rain to another.
i’d like to carry a body across like that— tender
but i am more like the gathering of rain
a muscle of clay arching beneath the current.
nicole v basta is a poet, teaching artist, collage artist, and wannabe carpenter. Chosen by Rigoberto González, her chapbook V won The New School’s Annual Contest. Poems appear or are forthcoming in Birdfeast, Bodega, Qu, The Shallow Ends, Ninth Letter, SWWIM, Nat. Brut, and elsewhere. Her ancestors were coal miners– she tries to not be afraid of the dark. Find more here: nicolevbasta.com