Twin Cities

by Carol Muske-Dukes

Read by Emma Rye 

 

It was the river that made them two—

The mills on one side,

The cathedral on the other.

 

We watched its swift currents:

If we stared long enough, maybe

It would stop cold and let us

 

Skate across to the other side.

It never froze in place—though

I once knew a kid, a wild funny

 

Girl who built a raft from branches

(Which promptly sank a few feet out

From the elbow bend off Dayton’s Bluff),

 

Who made it seem easy to believe.

We’d tried to break into Carver’s Cave,

Where bootleggers hid their hot stash

 

Years after the Dakota drew their snakes

And bears on the rock walls and canoed

Inside the caverns. We knew there were

 

Other openings in the cliffs, mirroring

Those same rock faces on the other shore—

And below them the caves, the subterranean

 

Pathways underlying the talk and commerce,

The big shot churches, undermining the false

Maidenliness of the convent school from which

 

My friend was eventually expelled for being

Too smart and standing up for her own smartness.

Too late, I salute you, Katy McNally. I think

 

That the river returned then to two-sidedness—

An overhung history of bottle-flash and hopelessness.

I see you still—laughing as the lashed sticks

 

Sank beneath you, laughing as you did

That morning when the river lifted

Its spring shoulders, shrugging off

 

The winter ice, that thin brittle mirage,

Making you believe

We were all in this together.

 

Retrieved from: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/07/06/twin-cities