Betsy Sholl – Poetry by Craig Sipe, “Reunion in Beaver Falls”

Craig Sipe, a Mainer now, grew up, as his poem says, in Pennsylvania.  But the changing world his speaker describes with poignancy could be any of the mill towns here in Maine as they face decline and try to rebuild themselves.   The poem also looks at how our relationship to our original home can both change and remain the same.

 

 

Reunion in Beaver Falls  (by Craig Sipe)

I am from Beaver Falls Pa,
part of Beaver County,
County Seat in the town of Beaver.

And I can tell you straight-on
that in 27 years I never
saw one damned beaver
…the whole time…

But I did see the night lit up
by blast furnaces all along
the Ohio River Boulevard
on the way to Pittsburgh,

I saw my father bent
by 21 turn shifts in a Cold Draw
pulling pipe, I saw
a thick, gray river
run past the Devout College

On the hill where the mill
fires paid for my brains but burned
my soul in cigarette plumes
over a smoker’s porch

Where the agnostics hung out
over the Beaver River, where
I gave birth to wanting to leave.

I am from Beaver Falls
where the years snuffed out the mills,
laid off a generation,
and seeded the diaspora of the next,

Where every house on every street
was for sale, wishing to dig itself up,
to redeem its soul from mortgage
and the need to change.

Beaver Falls, Beaver County,
County Seat of Beaver,
where a clean blue river

Flows today by a gas station economy,
and the   one each        legacy
donut and pizza shop   still there,

River flowing, falling by me,
stranger on the green bank,
a ghost of quit habits

staring up at the cross on the hill
one bank above the Devout College,
quite the going concern here now,

Hoping for a sign…some portent,
for a blast, for a smoke, for one God
Damned   bully   beaver.

–Craig Sipe