Environment featured

The River

August 4, 2023

The once marshland again longs to fill itself

with water, and up in the mountains

among the shoulder blades of the earth

energy lies clotted behind the dams

awaiting surgery.    Yesterday we drove

on dirt roads near the great river

and joyfully threw dust into the air.

Today the fog hangs thick and chilly

and trees hide in this mist like children,

half-seen.    I long to walk with this hunger

feel the unharnessed moisture, the tidal surge

of our lives, know the sundry stories

the unruly consciousness

that sweeps us along.

With a rose in her hair

she has flown off, returned

to her island in the east.

The flowers, cut weeks ago, droop

and purple petals fall silently

onto the slough.  Sentences, no,

entire sagas, remain untranslated

fragmented on an untethered isle.

It is the solstice, and downstream

hemmed between the levees, the river

masks itself in fog, seeking transformation,

people, and the others who make us human,

gather and watch the flotsam of our ordered lives

drift by on the river’s mirrored tongue.

Glances ricochet into the empty night.

The river speaks with a slow drawl,

pushes against the leveed banks.

Terry McNeely

i began writing, mostly poetry, shortly after my wife, Mickel, died in ʻ95. Death figured prominently in my thoughts, my own loss, my own alcohol abuse, the manʻs ecological destruction of a planet, the impoverishment of billions. Through these parallel dyings, i learned everything changes, there is nothing to hang onto and i came to find compassion, for myself and the larger world, and through compassion, i believe, we can find meaning in our lives, in our actions. To that end, i write. Iʻve lived most of my life in northern california, until i moved to hawaiʻi in 2003, where i live on the big island in Hilo. I have worked at various jobs, mostly USPS, but also owned a small bookstore.

Tags: dam removal, ecosystem restoration, rivers