The River Offers No Explanation

Okay, internet friends: water is important. Not just for drinking, but for minds. At Helicon West last Thursday quite a few people spoke about their connection with rivers and other bodies of water.

Also, we watched an interpretive fly tying demonstration. What is Helicon West? Basically, it’s a community of creative people who want to laugh and gasp and see the whole world. So we write stories and watch fly tying. Did you know flies are beautiful, works of art?

Today’s post will focus on one particular set of river poems: Star Coulbrooke’s. Go to 5:45 to start her segment.

My favorite line from her first poem, “River in the Night,” is somewhat clipped out of the middle of another phrase. It says “those who dam our history with their thirst, who never understand water, the need for rivers to carry it, to carry us…”

Internet friends, listen to how the poetry wends and flows. Phrases sink into each other, which is why I had to snatch a segment from a larger sentence; they flow and move and join up, each thought hinging on the next and previous thoughts. This poem is fluid. The whole thing makes up a river.

Which is wonderful, because Utah is a dry, dry state. Go spend some time away from air conditioning and faucets, and I guarantee you will crave water that flows and moves on and on and on.

The next poem is called “Snag.” Again, Star has this great strength of making the structure of her descriptions match the thing being described: this one starts out chaotic, a bit messy, objects following one after the other describing the mess around the river…and it ends similarly, but with a gentler touch. People connect with the water. And it is passion for them. I hear an environmental theme in Star’s poems that is more than just “don’t break nature.” She focuses on people’s connection to the environment. It’s for the benefit of our hearts to have a healthy and available outdoors to run to.

The last poem is “Rock Beach,” and I think it’s a gospel hymn. This time the river is “essential as breathing, as sleeping, the river is food for the soul.” And this poem comes with a solution to the previously posed environmental problems. “Innovation: don your swimsuit, go to the river, get in, and float.”

In essence, go out and learn to love what’s there. If people care about something, if you care about something, the you’ll protect it. And if you want to care about something you must know it.

Unintentionally, Star’s poems contrast Justin’s piece (go to 12:45; it’s laugh-out-loud funny…and kind of gross) about his disturbing experience on a cruise ship. Even though he was on a boat, the only water he touched was the community hot tub. I don’t think it healed his soul and mind and heart…at all.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger


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