on the wa(te)r front
Julia Ver Voort
Mama, I smelled iron when I run
down to the wa(te)r front today
something foul like the scent of the cents and the dollars
and all that steel stole from us.
Mama, you’ve gotta believe me,
I heard eerie sounds on Lake Erie
down at the wa(te)r front today
something low like the sound of oars scraping ore.
Mama, go on check the floor by the front door, I’m sure
I tracked in the blackened soul of our city on my soles
when I came home from the wa(te)r front today
some sick sticky thick syrup, like an oil slick.
Mama, in school I learned that water used to burn
back during the war, and it doesn’t anymore
but down at the wa(te)r front today, I swore
I tasted a river flowing fast and full of ash.
I’m not sure whether it’s just the weather
or maybe the war is still ragin’ on that shore
more dyin’ and more dyes in.
Mama, come back down to the wa(te)r front with me
now, before the sunrise, please
‘cause we’ll be mourning something even more
if we wait till morning.
can we go back down to the wa(te)r front
just to see if you feel it, too?
Julia Ver Voort (she/her) is a poet and environmentalist originally from Madison, WI. She is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she received her degree in International Studies and received the Helen B. Sharnoff award for formal poetry in 2020. She proudly resides in Cleveland, OH, dreaming of a green city on a blue lake.