January 21, 2014

"Big Muddy Water"

poem by John Brady 
(you can read other poems by John Brady here)

I am Big Muddy Water
I am the Ice Age’s daughter

I carved this mighty valley from the rock with my blood
I shaped its very nature with my flow and flood
I have, for eons, carried western mountains to the sea
From time before time I caused this Eden to be

No upright creature ever saw me in my youth
My sands long ago buried the primordial tooth
I was revered as sacred by sagacious native bands
Before an axe rang in a single pioneer’s hands

I carried the white explorers west upon my broad back
My course the highway to trace the native track
I fought the pirogues and keelboats that led the immigrant swell
A host of voyageurs I drowned at the cordelle

I stalled and succored expeditions before the settler stream
Forged iron men and women before the age of steam
I contested foot by foot the laying of the rails
To this day, a part of me none does as yet assail

I wear rock and timber armor half the length of my shore
Yet, at my whim, the lot of it would bar my way no more
I am now fettered with belts of concrete, cable and steel
The bridges and wharfs constructed for the common weal

I have borne the barge of commerce and the canoe of exploration
As I guided the settlement of the heartland of your nation
I have and I have always had the time to wait and see
What neglect and works of man will finally make of me

Hear me, O human race, as I my story tell
Your history in our brief meeting bodes neither of us well
I have been as long as rain has wet this circling star
I know, as you may not, what, without me, you are

read as the introduction to the Missouri River Relief "Post Holiday" Crew Awards and Banquet on January 11, 2014.

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