Looking over the tanned Hennepin Avenue Bridge
where a shaded Grain Belt sign still won’t shine.
Here too, Nicollet Island looms in an aromatic Spring night,
shadowed by new and ancient high-rises, boxes of floors,
holes of light, standing against the straightening northern winds.
These apartments of the departed—mills and factories and dreams,
ghosts left for better times and warmer climes.
They no more see the Guthrie above a scintillating river’s distance,
no more spiraling down Gold Medal Park pathways
through thick buggy twilights, in tow bags full of books and beer
slung over shoulders, no more here; new eyes peer.
No more boats or barges pass through the upper lock and dam
loaded with local commodities, as pedestrians stroll along St. Anthony Main
catching a movie, drinking and spending, as tangled trees
build up and obstruct the Mississippi flow below Central, sounding wetness,
sounding to south. For this sign there is no more light.
Right here, remembering this unlit hallmark as headlamps
of cars buzz flashing by, on dotted pot-holed streets,
we on feet, bumble through dialogue of what we read and where we’ve been.
This sign now is painted black as it watches over downtown in the fore,
were it shining off of the muddy waters, were it catching in cigarette smoke
exhaled, were it meeting pupils and blazing that scene on some
grey matter fold in a viewer’s mind, it would still be lit up there,
hanging above a tanned bridge, in its gold, black, white, and red.