a journal of modern society & culture

In the Middle of the Watershed

I sit on a rogue boulder
     high in alpine fields
          reading Gary Snyder.
My mind in the Rocky Mountains,
     I watch blue glaciers blanketed with toxaphene
          running away from the heat.
I reflect on the silvery river,
     mirror of change, below.
Turn north, eye to the swollen river-sea
     mouth where floating whales blow
          toxic through spouts.
O weaving licentious river,
     all the dirt slides down
          your logged slopes.
I face west, where trout jump through rainbows
     then disappear in silent oil-drilling
          mud-spill.
Eagles circle, eyeing the thirsty waters.
    I turn east, ear on explosive underground
          streams of West Bank water wars.
Man’s globe is leaking,
     there are no neutral benedictions.
O mind of filtering bones and eggs
     in sunken foamy pools, I face south,
         with SPF 306 sunblock on skin.
No potions for mutant three-legged frogs.
    Holy dwindling rivers in this multi-mega
          industrial watershed: They’re opening up
the country while closing down our ancient minds.
     Look: We are the frogs, the whales, the eagles—
          we claim spawnage from ice age flows.
We are the Nobel Laureate trout,
     taking the river to an unmade bed.

Vivian Demuth’s newest poetry book is Fire Watcher (Guernica Editions, 2013), in which this poem originally appeared. She is also the author of a novel, Eyes of the Forest, and a previous poetry chapbook, Breathing Nose Mountain. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies in Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Mexico. She works summers as a fire lookout in the Rocky Mountains, where she has hosted an annual Poetry on the Peaks event. In recent winters, she has taught creative writing and worked in a homeless outreach center in New York City.

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