Along Our Sister Willamette: A Play - Poem by Anne Morin
Along Our Sister Willamette: A Play
Along our Sister’s southwestern shore
exactly one mile from the Sellwood Bridge
a father builds a big fire on a knoll by the water
set like a stage for this audience of one
seated on a lanai across the river,
binoculars poised. The conflict proceeds:
Dry brush outlines the beach
a yellow-green backdrop, a curtain,
but dad’s fire threatens catastrophe
in the brightness of summertime’s heat.
Confronted by a man from the River Police,
sent with a call from the spectator,
Dad gestures with impatience to his kids.
The audience knows he has claimed, “They did it! ”
Downstage, heads bowed in shame,
the boys walk slow circles.
They work hard to bury the danger,
lug cans of water and dirt to the blaze.
Father looks silently on, stage right,
legs pressed together, arms folded. What a liar!
Fishermen spend whole days on this platform
perched on the banks of our Willamette’s flow.
They fish, eat and drink, converse with their friends,
poles propped in the dirt near the apron of rocks.
But they abandon their trash at the end of the day,
leave tangles of line
around the pits they have dug in the sand.
Fishing gear and beer cans, mashed-in Styrofoam cups,
shards of glass and the occasional paraphernalia
litter like ripe pimples around the face of our lovely Girl.
A couple of big guys, proving prowess and daring,
antagonists just the same,
knock down a fragile tree that has rested for years on this mound.
Costumed in mossy bark, few leaves, and pale, pitted wood,
the old knight had stood proudly, center stage.
Used often as backrest, scenic color for the set,
grey and twisted – way past its prime –
the tree offered shelter,
its human-sized hollow a center, a lean-to,
a cave into which bodies could hide in a storm.
I watch and I call and sometimes go to visit
this knot on the banks of our River Girl.
I mourn for the old Elder
knocked from its pinnings – gone now,
shoved off, split up, used to build fires.
I send pleas to the players
parts repeated each day:
Resolve to remember the sparkle each knoll gives
to our Sister Willamette - please take care!
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