I didn't realize it at the time, but things weren't going so well between us; in fact, we were a year away from divorce the summer we drove down to Kaskaskia, Illinois, where one could stand on the literal shore of ruin. There, exactly 100 years earlier, the Mississippi veered across two loops of a meander, all but obliterating the town. We gazed out over the river, trying to imagine the submerged townscape. I pictured a minor Atlantis with rustic riverfront, mud-bound flat boats tethered to sunken docks, saloon doors flapping lazily open for gaping trout.
"They couldn't see it coming?" I wondered aloud.
"That's rhetorical, right?" you shot back.
Later we read that, as the town's cemetery flooded, disinterred bodies floated to the surface and were swept away.
"At least," you said, "the dead have an excuse."
submitted at 1:43pm
17 December 2011
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