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Between the World and the River


 A jagged scar hemorrhaging blue water
runs through newly fractured white ice
An untimely shipping channel intentionally cut
unabashedly countermanding the seasons
breaches the crystalline shield held up by the river until the spring thaw
when temperate weather removes the need for a solid sheath
to buffer the life teeming within from bitter arctic air
and prevent harsh winter winds from lashing a fluid surface
evaporating its very existence 
Nature would have waited
to melt the cover that incubates the coming spring
allowing winter to complete its cycle 
But man does not wait on the natural world
commandeering control
seizing power over the river’s flow
dictating its levels to optimize profits
greasing the wheels of industry
with the life blood of the St. Lawrence
 
On this overcast March morning
the sight of open water
the show of color
the surge of movement
overshadows the manner of its appearance
welcomed by my waning spirit
greedy too for all that the running river heralds
A source of my strength from the moment years ago
when I first entered its watershed
Where other rivers and lakes had soothed me
as I gazed upon them mesmerized
the mere thought of motion eclipsed
no water has quenched me as completely as the Upper St. Lawrence
this addendum to the Great Lakes
the northbound descent of their waters to the Atlantic
its wide reaches near Lake Ontario strewn with islands of granite and pine
 
Stumbled upon early in my twenties
not seeking a place to settle
intending to pass through onto other things
I was caught off guard by its undercurrent of energy that swelled inside me
A potency emanating from this place increased the longer I lingered
as if the groundwater that fed the river was feeding me
I became a branch of the river  
or better still
one of its wetlands
Saturated during times of high water
lush with fresh growth
diminished by offsetting draughts
the yang accompanying the yin
my balance realigned by abiding by nature
Living lightly with the seasons
the river’s current running through me
shocking my system
sparking my brain’s synapses to fire
electrified my endeavors like the dam downriver
but not like it at all
not living on the St. Lawrence only to take its power
carving its shorelines to straighten its path
dredging its bottom to remove its rapids
forcing it to pool and stagnate
obliterating the river’s true course to the sea
manipulating its spirit to satisfy a transitory notion of man’s dominance
untenable concepts fostering an unsustainable relationship
risking the river and placing me at peril
 
I formed instead a common bond
with the watershed of the St. Lawrence
each contributing to the others well being
It permeates and empowers me  
enabling me to speak on its behalf
to those who do not consider the river’s proper place in creation
overstating their own
I became the interface
between the world and the river
the wetland that purifies the water it receives
allowing it to flow back restored
to breathe clean air into water
by advocating for its rights
My sometime livelihood and persistent passion
nourished by the river it nurtures
the outward manifestation of my kinship with this place
called by the Iroquois the garden of the Great Spirit 
baptizing me into a community where I believe I am meant to be
Continuing my grandparents’ and parents’ migration
furthering the journey as far as my legs will take me to a direct reality
resembling perhaps the existence of ancestors on the banks of Lake Urmia
Unadorned lives purposeful and resplendently simple
Applying lessons learned
the wisdom passed on  the truth self taught
Putting into practice those many moments throughout the years that spoke to me
telling me to pay attention remember this it will be important someday
All coalescing coming into play germane to my life in the North Country
on New York’s border with Canada where
the St. Lawrence River
no longer running free
still infuses the shorelines
 

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