“How the River” by Julia Runcie

Julia Runcie


Strange that for so many years
I walked among the peopled buildings
and did not think of mountains.

I took my comfort
in the streetlight
and the stoplight.
I lay not wakeful
for the owl’s low hooting in the canyon.

I know the city is not less simply
because I want less of it.

But how different it is, now,
to wade across the tumbled creek
when once I crossed
the out-flung arms of bridges
and was speechless at their beauty
and never for a moment thought
of how the river lay
beneath the bridge.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
Tribute to Scientists


Julia Runcie: “As a field biologist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, I work on a project charged with restoring federally-endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep to their historic range. My chief responsibility is to locate and observe Sierra bighorn in the wild, collecting demographic data that indicates the health and growth of the population. My job takes me deep into the mountains for days at a time, and in this simpler world of rocks and creeks and clouds I often startle myself by finding parallels with human cities. My poems reflect my personal understanding of the ways in which our buildings, roads, and machines can mimic the organisms and systems of the natural world, and how the same thrills derived from the drama of civilization can be found within a mountain range, a desert wash, or the grass and trees and birds in my rural backyard.”

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