I speak with the voice of water,
rivulet, brook, stream and creek,
for the whitewater in lost gorges,
boiling cataracts, every place
where the souls of wild fish gather
to remind us of the power of hydrology.
I speak with the name of rain,
with the soft lips of condensation,
even the dew which gathers each night,
every drop another transition from sky to earth.
I invoke the masses of insects to take over the world,
to begin the hatching and mating sure in the fact
that tomorrow another dam will fail, another levee crumble,
another river where you live will tire of its banks
and seek retribution on your lawn,
running up your driveway and into your basement.
I praise the flash flood,
the artesian well, the flowing
hearts under our feet,
the webs of underground rivers
coursing through solid rock.
I fish in incantations, genuflections,
my body a living marker for the crest gauge,
tidal fluctuation, flood tides and fresh water seiches.
When my eye falls on rivers I praise their transparency,
their nature of shaping their way as they move.
Water is my heart churning in a white hydraulic,
my tongue longing for a quiet pool, the skin of night
settling in, mayflies on the edge of moonlight
sifting out of the trees.
I praise the lust for emergences,
the urge to quit the job, convert the pension funds to
river frontage, the sudden impulse to carry the flyrod
into a meeting, the fly ripping the lips of your superiors.
I embrace the chant of waterfalls, the litany of holy rivers:
Battenkill, Firehole, Bighorn.
I trust only the sweet smell of rotting cedar,
the scent of mudbanks festering with nymphs,
the rivers rising in my blood like an illness, a fever sent by
the god of desire to make his presence known, something jolting
through the veins to replace the done deal, the raise with a
corner office, the soul trader you most likely have become.
Author - Michael Delp is the author of five full-length collections which include poems, essays and short stories. The Mad Angler’s Manifesto was previously printed in The Last Good Water. His most recent, As If We Were Prey is a collection of short stories primarily dealing with the darker regions of the male folly of trying to stay alive. He is co-editor of the award winning “Made in Michigan” book series at Wayne State University Press. He recently retired from the writing program at the Interlochen Arts Academy where he taught for 27 years, 13 of them as director. He spends his summers at the Reeling Waters Lodge, his hideout on the Boardman River in N Michigan. More information at www.michaeldelp.com.