Sean Hill

In the first city
                                                            on the eventually
                              Mighty Mississippi
ice fishing
                              the ice darkening,
                              like a bruise,
                                                            according to the locals
          —speaking to something
                                             than the lake. Why not
          money or envy or leaves in deep summer
or my fancy
                              far away
                                                            from this middle place,
          a bit of glass,
          broken wine bottle say,
                              cast overboard at sea
                                                                                          green against blue
to shore
          a frosted shard
          because I don’t
bruise that way.
          At any rate it shrinks,
                                                            melting from the edges, becoming
                              an island to which the gulls
          return, shrieking with spring.



"Bemidji in Spring" grew from a moment of perspective or alienation, which I often faced as a black man from Georgia going through my first winter in Bemidji, a small town in Northern Minnesota. It’s similar to how we might talk about the glass when the liquid and the unoccupied volume of said glass are equal, or how one refers to the Civil War or the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression or the War for Freedom. Or for that matter any number of "conflicts" or "wars" or "operations." Each of these reflects a reality. The poem grew out of a difference of opinion.