Minnesota is north of us. In Minnesota is Lake Itasca. The headwaters of the Mississippi River that flows past my city in a constant unthinking way.
The river is always east.
Minnesota and Lake Itasca and I lived at Itaska and Grand when I first got married. I didn't even know where the name came from.
This water flows past. I stare out at it from the park I'm not supposed to go to because it's supposedly filled with drug dealers and prostitutes. I watch it from the national cemetery. I hear the tugboats when I drop my daughter off at her school that overlooks the river. I remember going to a school close enough to hear those boats. And see those graves as well.
The watershed, of course, is larger than Lake Itasca. It pulls in from far to the west. When I stand on the Point down in Cairo where the Ohio meets the Mississippi, the waters are from all over the United States.
Watershed. Headwaters. Bluffs and flood stages and bank swallows and all these river words.
Have I been to Minnesota? No. But it goes past me every moment.