JLC (1967 / Galesburg, Illinois)

Jon Bigawn

You, Spoon River, with your thirsty
whirls tried to swallow my only son
you pulled him, eyes shocked, under your
surface, shot him back up for that final
breath and hauled him down again, you
tried to rip him from the known to ambiguity,
carry him away on a boatless journey
indifferent to the panic ashore, unmoved
by the robin’s song, but you didn’t count
on the fight, Jonnny versus the river,
didn’t know how strong a man could be
against your infinite power, your godlike
pull, your stamina. An exchange—father
for son—the best I could manage in the
chill of the blanket you tangled around
me. I struggled against the comfort of
your bed, against your seduction, and the
promises you made that removed me from
wife and son, those shallow fables that
flung me from life to headline to statistic,
from memory to obscurity and finally to this.

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