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Deshkan Ziibiing

The river flows
Not as it has always flowed
But still
It flows
Brown and frothing
Where it falls

In 1824 a European
Describes sturgeons
Of an immense size
Seven feet long
One hundred and fifty pounds
In this river
In 1821 another European
Described the river
As delightfully transparent

Today the settlers
Whose houses line the banks
Describe the river
As peaceful
Oh so peaceful
But I remember
May 24, 1881
And the steamboat
SS Victoria
Her boiler torn loose
Scalding some to death
Crushing others
On the way down
The upper deck collapsing
Onto the people below
And holding them underwater
As the ship promptly sank
And this peaceful
Oh so peaceful
Peacefully claimed
One hundred and eighty-two settler lives
On the birthday
Of their Queen

And the river flows
Not as it has always flowed
Emptied of sturgeons
Filled with sewage
And pesticides from local farmlands
Fields that once were forests
Around this
The Forest City
Brown and frothing
Where it falls
It bides its time
And waits

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