Instructions For a River

At the beginning of May I read about a challenge to write an instructional poem to an inanimate object on Michelle Heidenrich Barnes blog. You can read poetry written in response to this challenge on the May Padlet.

Since I have been writing poetry about family who headed North to make a new life in the Pine Valley, I began to wonder about writing instructions for a river. 

I might have gotten carried away a bit.

Instructions For a River

Acquiesce to the seasons.
Satiate yourself on snow melt and spring rain.
Rescue runoff from rivulets and streams.
Tumble white and wild over boulders and rocks.
Careen screaming over cliffs, and then
Ease off and etch oxbows onto plains.
Keep within your banks.
Flood only when necessary.
Slow down in summer, even rivers need a rest.
Gorge yourself on autumn storms and then,
Come winter, rest, encased in ice.

Acknowledge your importance, but
Remember, you are part of a larger cycle.
Share some of your cargo with the sun.
Hydrate the plants that grow near your shores.
Vanquish the thirst of animals congregating there.
Replenish oceans and lakes. 

Be mindful of your responsibilities.
Harbour insects of all kinds.
Calm your whirlpools around nesting fowl.
Be gentle with amphibians and reptiles.
Mind your manners around mammals,
but keep those beavers in check.
Nurture fish of all species.
Guard their eggs til they hatch.
Tend the fry till they are ready and then,
Show them the way to ocean and lake.
Welcome them home when they return.

Provide for your people.
Cradle canoes and kayaks.
Float flies and fishing lines downstream.
Scrape out swimming holes.
Rehabilitate yourself when you are desecrated.
Be kind to us, even when we are undeserving.
And fierce when you must, but
Please don’t take our loved ones from us.
Let the rumble of your passing be a persistent lullaby.

Cheriee Weichel 2019 (draft)

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