Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The river

The river smelled like the sea.
Yet there were no clapboard houses
painted brightly, clinging like limpets,
strung across the rocky hillside.
There were no pinstriped garden snails,
no flock of gulls to snatch them up
and drop them down from high above,
to strip the bruised snail-flesh free
from shells with gleeful squawks.

The river smelled like the sea.
Terns gathered up the scattered figments
of an overactive imagination
and twisted their coiled, aethereal strands
into clever nests, impregnable fortresses
to house their squalling young.

Rachel Westfall
July 16, 2014


christopher said...

Your poem made me think how the critters come in this far. First up the Columbia and then a right turn into the Willamette and up past all of Portland to Willamette Falls - there the salmon and lamprey find a fish ladder and continue. The First Peoples have permission to walk the dam for lamprey. No one else can leave the boats and they have to stay behind a line. On the west side is a tail race to a 13kv plant and the fish ladder downstream exit is there plus the fish can go safely over the turbines due to a bypass I helped create in the nineties.

My Grief Is Oceans
On The Willamette

Not this far up, no -
Though the lampreys come to spawn
and the salmon go
upstream past these falls.

No sign of salt here
though the sea lions do feast
and the gulls clean up
and my heart cries out
for you as if in my pain
you might sing again.

July 16, 2014 8:37 PM

Rob-bear said...

The river smelled like the sea,
where the two met,
and intermingled.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Rachel Westfall said...

It seems like we are a long way from the sea, too. It's really not far if you go over the mountains, but it's a long, long way if you follow the river.

I miss the sea.