Here, at this half-ass state park without a sign,
with its cracked concrete bench and triangle of dying
cottonwoods, the Missouri joins the Mississippi,
meeting not like a ballet, or twisting
silk scarves, but maybe like construction workers, shaking
hands before a building forever half-built.
And what is there to do now but love this unfinished work
of the river, carrying everything it has ever been
given: snow-melt streams like a cold bandana circling
its neck, shreds of styrofoam cooler catching
in its teeth, sturgeon eggs blooming with their translucent
tails, nitrates, and phosphates, and soil glittering
with bone, and this single Mountain Dew bottle
eddying in a green-tinged foam, the ashes
of Oceti, reddening in all of our throats. I sit with my knees
tucked to my chest, listen to the ducks call
each other from either side of what will be
the same water, and River, you and I both
know that despite your dams, you will go on
to grow deadly algae in the Gulf, to feed rich
alluvial plains, shelter alligators and hellbenders
and mudpuppies, to do the most beautiful
and terrible things. We know the word end
is never an end, but always a mouth instead.

Teresa Dzieglewicz is the winner of a Pushcart Prize, the 2018 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, and an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the Pushcart Prize XLII, Best New Poets 2018, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere.