A Spell For The Duwamish

March has gotten past me with very little writing done. Jumping back into writing something, anything with HA’s geography prompt at dVerse.
Critique welcomed. I’m not thrilled with this one, but I see some light peeking through. (Note, playing with line breaks.)

A Spell For The Duwamish

Rolling rock and logs down Yesler Street, past working ladies,
skidding old cedars towards San Francisco,
last supplies sending lonely men cold to Alaska,
we took trees from Seattle.

When horses drowned in pools of mud and burnt timber,
when the tides backed up our sewers, surging up
with smells unspeakable, after the fire,
we flattened the hills.

Beacon hill became Pioneer Square sludge,
a throne to commerce and unsewaged shoes. We would raise
street levels a full thirty-five feet, build retaining walls,
turn Elliot Bay into city blocks, fill in the marsh.
Ladders were placed at the corners so that ladies
in nine-yard dresses could window shop, up street,
down street.

We mercantile alchemists, we ground cobalt into sand,
fired sand into glass, sunk glass into concrete:
enchanting light, we built windows into the ground.
An oxidation of sky and hermetics:
colbalt skews blue with sun, our glass turned dark.

Now a tourist curiosity, we may safely walk the underground:
a short mile learning coy history.
The seamstresses of Seattle didn’t sew.

The Duwamish is forty percent shorter than in 1850,
straighter, too. Slip docks and Superfund sites,
our water majicks spun out of control.

Today we cut glass into our sidewalks again,
lighting the old unders where the river still flows:
plants will grow in our estuary,
and salmon can spawn again.

8 thoughts on “A Spell For The Duwamish

    1. Thanks, Rob. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve changed it up a little this morning and added an image of the underground. If you’re ever in town with a few hours to spend, take the Underground Tour – it’s fun, slightly scandalous, and a good primer on early white people in Seattle history. http://www.undergroundtour.com/


    1. Thanks anmol. I’ve just played with the lines some, and like it more this morning. It felt very clunky to me (and added back in the stanza breaks which disappeared on publishing.)


  1. This is incredibly rich and detailed in its portrayal of the geography that has changed over time 🙂 Beautiful writing, Nora ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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