Monday, August 1, 2011

Roll On Columbia: An Epilogue

Come Friends
Join my Journey
Swim in my current
Glide on my riffles
Run my rapids
Let time be empty

I feel the morning rain
dripping off the conifers
The icy glacial melt
awakens my thirst
I take a few deep breaths
and let Springs rise up from Within

My source is sourceless
My headwaters have no place of origin
Yet somewhere in the Canadian Rockies
I emerge

I gather cascading streams
And plunge downward
I slice through a canyon chute
I breathe water
I exhale water
My shorelines migrate
I change course on a whim

I no longer sit behind clay dams
I re-craft the wild cataracts
Priest Rapids, Dalles des Morts
The forest once drowned grows feral
Salmon spawn in all my streams
My tributaries
My contributaries
My visionaries

My Totems are here
Bears black and brown visit and play
Deer and Elk graze and drink abundance
The elusive Lynx stalks in the woods
Families of Otter frolic in my eddies
A pack of Wolves
unnamed unnumbered
howl moonfully from my bank
Beavers love-slap my water skin
Coyote dances on the cliff edge
Eagle flying blesses my winding course

I cross no boundary between nations
There is no Canada
There is no United States

My path goes round Roosevelt’s dam
I roam over the Grand Coulee
I spill wetness over Dry Falls
And where once salmon were halted
I now let them walk up my arms

My Friends,
I hope you’re enjoying the float
Perhaps you’ve seen the Osprey fishing
Perhaps you’ve heard the Loon wailing
Trust your journey
And should you see Woody
Please tell him
Yes indeed, I roll on

On the Hanford Reach
I feel the radioactive shock
Still cookin’ after all these centuries
I cough toxic sand and roll on

I meet my goddess river the Snake
She brings sweet cold water
More than I can breathe
We rejoin, we marry, we roll on

Today there are no tugs
No barges carrying gravel and grain
No merchant ships with cars and phones
No railways, bridges, or dams
No outfall pipes spewing waste
No dikes, riprap, or seawalls

Today I carry salmon smolts
on their circle of destiny
Sturgeon grow ancient in my sleep
I roll on

I hear distant drumming
I briefly linger in a pool
Coyote winks at me
I swirl a whirlpool in reply
I drop over Celilo Falls
once smothered and now alive
I roar over the rocks
My breath becomes Spirit spray

Ghosts of the River People
gather on my shore
They drum on Antelope skins
Dance the Salmon song
They fish the free-falling falls
Taste again the Salmon power
Give thanks to the Great Spirit
Retell the old Coyote tales

Coyote grins
and scampers away

Across my flank
In her garden of rock
She Who Watches waits
Her eyes shine on the River Souls

The remains of the dam
lie on my bed
I slowly grind the concrete
into round boulders
The turbines into sleeping rust
All buried in my sandy belly

I sail through the Gorge
I recall the last great flood
some centuries ago
when I carried the volcanic ash
when I was given a new path

Bridge of the Gods resurrected
arches her benificent back
River Souls amble across
I slide under her smooth shadow
I roll on

I bask in the snow-capped radiance
of Wyeast and Klickitat
who no longer hurl stones of fire
their jealousy now abated
Their beloved beauty St. Helens rests

Thunderbird rides on thermals above
soaring high on 10-foot wings
The Sky jumps with fire bolts
The Sun paints rainbows on slate
Wind caresses my shimmering skin

The once muddy Willamette
comes to me clear and cool
We swell over the marshes and sloughs
Hundreds of thousands of ducks,
geese honking, swans, and cranes
ascend and fly about
The cacophony is prayer
The prayer is wildness

Ghosts of the Street People
come to visit my shore
They linger and camp
under the stars in the black night
They rest in the peace of moonlight
They drink my holy water
without any filters or fear
They gaze at the salmon running
once a lucrative catch, now a sweet dream

Friends, please hold on
I am fluid might
I am rolling thunder
I am flowing free
The Corps no longer dredges my guts
I have washed the sand islands
built with my precious entrails
I roll on

I feel the pulse of the incoming tide
I sense the magnificent Ocean
I taste salt
I don’t want to mix
But I‘m drawn from Beyond

I make my way onto the bar
We clash, buck, and surge
We roil whale bones and ship masts
We spit dragon spray
Then I am Beyond
I dissolve in the swells
There are no dead zones
I breathe, the salmon breathe
I catch a current
I drift to where the Albatross fly
I dissolve again
and again

I feel the morning rain
dripping off the conifers
The icy glacial melt
awakens my thirst
I take a few deep breaths
and let Oceans rise up from Within

By  Frank Opila, Entry #20