The River Is Empty   Leave a comment

In the July/August issue of Orion, a poem by Sherman Alexie: “Sonnet, Without Salmon”

1. The river is empty. 2. Empty of salmon, I mean. 3. But if you

were talking to my grandmother, she would say the water

doesn’t matter if the salmon are gone. 4. She never said that.

I just did. But I’m giving her those words as a gesture of love.

5. She’s been gone for thirty-one years. 6. The water doesn’t

matter if my grandmother is gone. 7. She swam wearing all

of her clothes, even her shoes. 8. I don’t know if that was a

tribal thing to do, or if she was just eccentric. 9. Has anybody

ever said that dam building is an act of war against Indians?

10. And, yet, we need the electricity, too. 11. My mother said

the reservation needs a new electrical grid because of all the

brown- and blackouts. 12. “Why so many power outages?”

I ask her. 13. “All the computers,” she says. 14. Today, in

Seattle, I watched a cute couple at the next table whispering

to their cell phones instead of each other. But,  chivalrous,

he walked to the self-service coffee bar to get her a cup.

Lovely, I thought. She was busy on her phone while he was

ten feet away. When he sat back down, she said, “Oh, I was

just texting you to get me sugar and cream.

The poem is placed at the end of an article by James Howard Kunstler on the future of cities, in which he predicts a return to interest in waterways as economies are restructured due to energy & environmental crises. Sitting here, typing this, I wonder about the rivers of this world, & emptiness.

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Posted July 6, 2011 by the meaning of rivers in Uncategorized

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