Ode to Water
A few months ago I was being transported through the twists and turns of the Rocky Mountains via the Durango/Silverton narrow gauge railroad. The centerpiece of this breathtaking journey is the appearance of the Animas River in all its forms. The river would be there, then disappear behind forests and mountain, and upon each return to our view she provided a fresh surprise.
I found myself so entranced with the reality before me of the life-giving force of the river, I wrote this poem.
Animas River—Giver of Life
Born out of a snowy ancient caldera
flowing her natural course
without diversion or dam
uninhibited and untamable
creating as she moves deep gorges, tiny rivulets, foamy falls
Crystal clear source of life for elk and bear and eagle
whooshing through verdant vegetation, Ponderosa and Aspen, high desert flora, flowery meadows
gliding into, over and around still boulders and red rock walls
forming living environments for swimming, hopping, slithering things
slaking the thirst of humanity
Birthing a torrent as she plunges to lower elevations
swelling and speeding as snow-pack melts
collecting twigs, soil, whatever stands in her way in her relentless downward trajectory
the impure detritus of parts of nature
holding all within herself until pouring into and merging with the pure waters of the
grand San Juan River
Resting in pools and backwaters
gently yielding to the contours of the earth as she inexorably pushes on
cradling those who ride her rapids
delighting all on Earth as she appears in new forms
erecting glorious ice palaces at the poles
lying deep in the ground, pooling in mountain meadows,
gathering into vast oceans
salty for sea creatures, sweet for the rest of us
ubiquitous, essential for life, simple elements merging
H and O, left and right
The connecting force
of all levels of existence.
I’m not sure why I chose to share this poem for the first time here. Perhaps because I’m struck with the magnitude of the importance of water, and that in order to even consider moral and civic responsibilities toward her, we must instill within ourselves a deep appreciation of her life-giving qualities.
I’ve thought often of that memorable train ride and the thought that has formed and grown inside me is that water connects us together. Water is everywhere. Our bodies are more than fifty percent water and if the body dehydrates, death is imminent. Vast oceans must be navigated in order to reach other continents. Huge ports allow exchange of goods among all nations of the world. Rivers carry water craft from one place to the other. Recently water, in the form of hurricanes and typhoons, has brought us together as we respond with empathy and aid to those who suffer from the onslaught.
Without water, other elements take over. Farmlands are lost to encroaching deserts. Devastating fire consumes dry forests and brush-filled mesas. The air, our atmosphere, responds to the imbalance by hoarding water within black clouds or spewing her forth in deluges that destroy property and kill.
Water is a gentle force, a mighty force, an immutable force. She gives life, nurtures the Earth, corrects our transgressions toward nature. She is like a mother. She might very well be the feminine side of God.
Let’s love her back.