When February sun has teased
The sheer iced over walls of crags
With glancing warmth,
A first drop tocks
Beneath the cliffs
Six feet of snow
Are suddenly a potency for water.
A wind-ripped ledge of ice,
Pressed to shivers by elk hooves,
Turns running droplets,
Down rocks, precipitous,
Until sheer off
Down ragged runs,
It tears away the first green foothill moss.
Nine days’ rain [no stanza]
On head-deep snow
Rolls down each mountain’s overhangs,
Into the ruts of every coursing rush,
Jagged on stones,
Tumbled to a thrashing, ripping, pounding roar.
Flood plains in valleys,
Dust for years, curving, weed blown,
Lined with pheasant tracks,
The raccoons’ ears and rabbits’ eyelids twitch
As pool and channel fill and vanish,
Water pulsing toward the banks.
Branches and wood scraps, a catcher’s mit,
Lopped off stop sign,
Whole playfields, roads, and lawns
Turn river grist and swirl at highway speed.
Where dikes mark lines
Of edgy towns and farms,
Sand bags are heaped.
Shop owners slug and fill,
Pile a hill
Of shaggy cloth unshapely lumps.
Will they think to stand
On a dike just sliding in
And command the land-loving waters
The river flows where it will,
Water of death,
Unleashed, outrageous, amniotic floodswell,
Carving new born land.