So, Verble slaps the piece of paper down on the counter and here is what he was furious scribbled out.
The River Banks are Full of Ghosts
I heard on the news today that you were dying, some
sort of slow, ridiculous death, the type
of death in which you slowly wither away, like cancer,
but the outline that you leave shows where you
once were, when you were strong,
and there are marshlands still, maybe some 10,000 acres
left, when once there was a million or more,
all along the delta that was created when you
laughingly collapsed into the sea.
You leave behind the canyon, that you carved with
your patient hands, working slowly, slowly cleaving
through the millennia upon millennia of multicolored
strata, burrowing yourself deep deep into the earth,
where you could lie coolly in the basin, never
touched by the sun except at midday.
The scientist on the radio today who was
talking about your death, she said that she had
to borrow allergy medicine from her guides while
hiking along your canyon banks, because there is different flora
growing there now, shrubs that never grew before,
because the great floods that you depended on each year
to rip away the callouses of unneeded dirt, those
annual purges don’t come any more, thanks to the
dam, somewhere upriver, somewhere out of sight,
that churns daily to light up Vegas
and parts of southern California.
The other man who was talking about your death, he
read a book about you when he was a child, written only
100 years ago, a book that talked about your
virility, your strength, your verdant hair and your golden sinews and the
clear blue, blue blood that gave life, life to birds, life to plants,
life to animals, and this man, he tried to follow the path of that
book in a canoe, and he turned a corner and you stopped.
You are now nothing more than the foam at the top of a frappucino.