The Collins Poetry Residency is established in honor of the Richard Collins family and their contributions to and encouragement of poets and poetry in the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities and the Upper Mississippi River Valley. The residency supports community-based poetry and a regional poet who resides in the six-county Quad City area (Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, Scott, Clinton, Muscatine).

2010 Poet-in-Residence is Salvatore Marici of Port Byron

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jodie Toohey: Fog on the River on a Cold February Morning

Jodie Toohey has written poetry since she was a young girl. In 2008, she published a book of poetry for pre-teen and teen girls: Crush and Other Love Poems for Girls. Samples of that project and other information about Jodie are available on her website at

The poem was inspired by the fog over the Mississippi River as seen from above while driving downtown over the Harrison Street hill in Davenport, Ia. The title reflects the metamorphosis of a cold foggy morning as a masquerade ball.

Fog on the River on a Cold February Morning

The masquerade ball begins;
I watch from the balcony.
Translucent swans glide
In ice-air, bow their heads
To the other as if to say, “begin”.

She curtseys toward him,
Paper lace fan flutters;
Only her eyes reveal.
Eyelids flutter so softly,
Whispering her invitation.

He lilts to her gracefully
His foot so slightly behind,
Seemingly unmoving
But floating
To initiate the dance.

He takes her fingers in his hand
And kisses the soft flesh.
Her silken scarf billows
Encircling him with the shroud,
Briefly obscuring his face from the crowd.

Arms raised encircling in ascent
Commencing the winter dance.
Rising in curls
Fading then ascending
Her bell skirt swishes and swirls.

The dance smooth and calculated
But un-efforted and unintentional.
Scripted but aimless,
Rising and falling like a smooth
Merry-go-round or a wave.

Continuously riding the stream of air.
Warmth lifts to heaven
Away from cold crystals;
Frigid meets frozen and mingles
As the dance continues.

Wisps of fog reach out like fingers
Saying, “Come hither”;
Other dancers join;
Flowing symphony of
Dozens of couples dancing
Above the ever changing
River ball room floor.

Dancers curling, mingling
Until becoming one,
Boundaries of individual
Indiscernible in the smoke-filled room.

They dance without purpose,
Sway, wander, floating,
Performing to perform,
Power of the movement.

The ordinary cannot be ignored.
The ball continues
Even as music disappears until dawn threatens
As air warms or river cools,
Bringing equilibrium ending the fog
And the dance.