Tiel Aisha Ansari 

 

Backwash

 

My shovel bites into the ground and stops,
crunch, on small round stones. Two hundred feet above the river
my yard's choked with water-smoothed pebbles,
tiny glacial erratics dumped by backwash.

Five hundred trillion tons of melted ice
came down like God's hammer, thrown for gold. Scoured out the

Gorge

from side to side, down into
deep bedrock. Backed up into the Willamette —

four hundred feet of water over Portland, sucked down
in the wake of the greater flood, stripping out
the riverbed all the way to Eugene.
Instant erosion pushed the falls upriver
past future bridges, ghostly steel frameworks
suspended in the swirling flood.

We've built a bridge now
for bikes, trains, pedestrians only. We're having serious

conversations

about driving less, reducing carbon footprints
statewide, citywide. Talking about a carbon tax.
On Mt. Hood the glaciers get smaller
every summer. This continent couldn't field another flood
like the Missoula.

I toss a handful of stones into the shrubbery.

Five hundred trillion tons of water.

My hand seems tiny
and the glaciers, vast.

One pebble
can move a mountainside.

 

 

 

Tiel Aisha Ansari is a Sufi warrior poet. Her work has been featured by Fault Lines Poetry, Windfall, KBOO and Prairie Home Companion among others. Her books include Knocking from Inside and High-Voltage Lines. She works as a data analyst for the Portland Public School district and currently serves as president of the Oregon Poetry Association. Visit her online at knockingfrominside.blogspot.com