Ode: On the Schuylkill

Borne by the river’s back, boat-legions rolled
    in search of commerce, bridges to build;
souls, cargo (heavy, light), bought & sold,
    coffers waiting in Philly to be filled.
Ladies leaped gingerly onto green banks,
    bound in satin or lace, versed in politesse or no,
        & walked rote patterns, inscribed insignias in the air;
crew-ship kids, underlings already in their ranks,
    sought to make the landing show-offy, slow,
       hulked a hundred yards from a drunken fair.

Add a century, an Expressway looms over
   the murk— wave-sounds, squeals, & metal—
which the Schuylkill cannot answer, hovering
    under— slow-moving, patient, & settled.
The river’s mind is limpid— the human race
   churns around it restlessly, adding bodies
      shorn of dignity, bloated, pulp-bloody, blue,
having carried burdens the river never dreams
    of, emptiness so incorrigible the Schuylkill’s face
         registers nothing but disinterested waves— tender, true.

The Over-brain, peering in, questioning, elevates
    the Schuylkill’s mystery into frozen heat—
truth & beauty buoyed up in the browning, decay, fate
    of all water-bodies prone to human meat—
I sit on the edge, watching overhanging leaves,
    frozen myself by the gross negligence
      of what lies beneath the river’s surface,
& my own, as the summer sun inverts, grieves
     for the masses, exploring no penitence
        as I am, grounded, here, & diving for purpose—