Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Columbus
Five days have past; five sunrises, with them
Five long nights! And again, in stride, I hear
The cute rustling of plastic garbage bags,
The turning of aluminum cans, moved
Through the dirty waters of the river,
Brought still by the clash of a rubber tire.
Once again do I behold the mountains
Of a thousand cigarettes, placed gently
Against the banks, where any bird may find
His dinner in the ash, or tobacco,
He finds lined in the leftover filters.
These beauteous forms have not been to me—
Forgotten are the pale images of
Homeless men, shouting with their signs for food,
But mostly, they are hungry for money,
Which they might spend to redecorate parks
With broken bottles and their paper bags—
For it has been too long since I have seen
The murky waters of that sweet river.
How oft! How oft, in dreams have I returned
To you, O humble Olentangy, you
Have killed a hundred depressions. Tranquil
Has my heart become when I turn to thee.
And now I see the picture of the mind,
Which, long gone, I thought to be extinguished.
Now here I stroll, my soul filled with the thoughts
Of freshly cut grass and blooming flowers,
Of children running barefoot in their yards,
And you, my darling city, allow me
To forget these horrid things, and remind
Me of a better world: where pavement and
Concrete are more plentiful than the air
I breathe, the ants on the ground, or the dreams
A million terminally ill children
Pray to God before drifting to death's sleep.
Still I am a lover of the meadows
And the woods, but instead of trees and ferns
I walk in glee through skyscrapers and plants
Made of molding newspapers and dead mice.
I run among the cars—a herd of deer—
Who breathe the fragrant black smoke while they sprint;
A blackness that covers all the city,
Which hides me from the antagonistic
Sun, that murderous ball of Apollo's
Hate, light that darkens ev'ry person's skin.
Give me clouds and sweet drops of acid rain!
Hide the stars and moon for eternity;
I only want to see the synthetic
Glow of street lamps and reds of traffic lights.
If I should be where no more could I hear
The gentle whisper of your gurgling oil,
Nor could I see the fallen autumn leaves
Covered in candy wrappers just as brown,
Wilt thou forget me, too, Olentangy?
Forget the numerous days spent list'ning
To the homeless puking on the creek side,
Or seeing the graffiti as I walk
Under the bridges passing over thee?
May I never see the day that I could
Let the memories flee my aging mind!
This place, so dear to my heart and my soul,
Shall be with me ever more, for myself,
But most importantly, 'tis for thy sake!
by Matthew Thompson
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Matthew Thompson recently graduated from Otterbein University, where he got a degree in English. Suggestions on how to productively use such a degree should be sent to email@example.com.