Monday, September 3, 2012

Lock and Dam

In my day
I separated water from water
And made a lake that stretched for miles.
At Onalaska, they called me Number Seven, "the lucky one".
In Trempeleau, I was Number Six.

Though I was made by men, not God,
Still I was a firmament
And firm I stood.
Ice did not crush me, nor waves overtop me.
Warning lights marked my stout piers, and men and water crossed my gates
Only when I allowed. Concrete, stone, and iron I stood, and still I stand --
But without purpose.

The "drying", they called it,
As if the river was a pair of socks.
But it was clear to me that it was a dying.

As the droughts grew longer
And the rains less frequent
My life's blood ebbed
Turned muddy brown
And congealed.

The fish that had deftly evaded the hook
Now gasped a final breath
And lay by thousands in the mud.

Too strong to die
I hung alone above the stench
And raised my eyes to God.
As he waited, so did I.
We watched the seasons pass
And counted each new blade of grass
That sprouted at my feet.

Where the pike and catfish
Once had darted
Came the meadow mice.
They sniffed the air, and strained to see
My strange rocks standing
Where no stone should.

And still I survive.
Where once flowed acre-feet,
Where once scurried mouse feet,
The lizard and scorpion now contend
For whatever life remains.
Dust surrounds my feet, and the dunes threaten to overtop
What no wave could.

Let them come. I will sleep the sleep of centuries
Sheltered from the sun and wind.
And I will dream of rain.