Where the Salmon Trout Flows Through a Culvert

by: Kathleen Heideman
contact: kathleenmheideman@gmail.com
11:01 Apr 17 2017 Eagle Mine, Dodge City, Marquette County, Michigan, United States of America

Where the Salmon Trout Flows Through a Culvert Where the Salmon Trout Flows Through a Culvert
Why should we work towards a Great Lakes Commons and how ?
As a poet and environmentalist, I am reporting from the fraying "edge of the wild" as our planet enters the critical Anthropocene era. I am bearing witness as global mining companies descend on the Lake Superior Basin in a frantic, unsustainable search for polymetallic sulfide orebodies (nickel, copper, zinc, gold, silver and more), threatening our wild, wet and remote places.

The poems in my new collection – Psalms of the Early Anthropocene – are torn between howling grief and psalmic praise. The following poem is inspired by the risky juxtaposition of a sulfide mine with the headwaters of a wild trout stream.

"It’s death by a thousand culverts." - Josh Royte

Let us agree this river is outraged
to find itself contained by a culvert — contained!
O the idea of containing a river is laughable
and many say water will have the last laugh,
but for now, here, it sulks;
inundated with silt and sounds of all-night drilling,
drills penetrating even the silent glades, secret springs —
they are drilling in all directions now,
long snouts of drill tips pressing in and under,
deep booms and distant dynamiting like thunder,
drill heads dripping, lubricated with black oily fluid
foul as spoor from the anus of a skunk,
black X’s smeared to mark this terrain on someone’s map:
exploration, threatened water, tannin-stained pools,
tamaracks standing to their knees in peat.

The butterflies are small and black-veined.
The dragonflies are black, and feed on shadows
which flow from the dark mouths of culverts.
Something moving in my deepest, blackest heart
wants to grab that culvert by its metal throat
and tear it out.

Heideman, Kathleen. Psalms of the Early Anthropocene (Marquette, MI: Winter Cabin Books, 2017).

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