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Runoff

John Barton

What we release into the river.
How we alter the current.

The irrigation dam on the Old Man flooding the sacred

lands of the Peigan who have lived
here for generations on the arid Alberta plains.

The salmon-ladders.
The transmigration upward

slowing on the other side of the mountains, fewer
fish ascending waterfalls now absent.
Hydroelectric

dams all over in the middle of
nowhere: an invisible
sustain

able environment we sellóbill
boards defaced at the gates of Banff National Park

      Don't embitter
      Don't starve the bears


The town site above Bow Falls
exempt from Parks Canada policy so it can

accommodate more: tourists unaware ofv
the missing wild

currant bushes we trans
plant from roadside
ditches along any highway climbing into the eastern

slopes of the Rockies, the civilized
currants boiled
in treated Elbow River




water, sugared and cooled

cellophane sealing in a tamed
alpine savagery
like lovers we grow

to forget the moment we taste itó
this confusion

of currants and river water
tartness
and intent, words

picked from the disturbed bushes and erased
of meaning in the Ďnaturalí

flow of discourse, itís good for you

embossed on the empty
jars, sterilized or thrown away, cluttering
basements hungry for some purgative Boy Scout bottle drive or else

they are

dislodged from the landfill site during runoff
in the spring, residual tang mixing
with dioxins

in the water table
in the lakes and streams.


John Barton's works copyright © to the author.


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