Sunday, 27 November 2011

Ottawa Waters

Mighty Kitchissippi,
Incised by glacial torrent into ancient rift
Flooded by Champlain’s Sea
Hemmed by northern granite shield
Cloaked in seasonal colour
Quaking terraced clays.

Pioneering highway,
Canoeing fur and rafting timber
Grinding grain and sawing lumber
Illuminating and diving trams
Life-giving water.

Superficial beauty,
Rancid tea of rotting wood
Throttled Chaudiere and plundered fishery
Fertilised, manured, sewaged
Dumped and hormoned
Food-chain catastrophe.

Creeks and rivers joined your flow,
Fish spawned in freshening beds
Nature sustained the pioneer
Before the urban sprawl
Now bridged and culverted
As suburban drains
Crossed unnoticed
On my dissociated journey.

And yet, if I take time to look,
Clamber amid brush and weed
Bilberry and Greens Creek
Rideau and broad Ottawa
Flow agelessly with strange serenity:

They still give me hope.

Bryan Douglas Cook 3 November 2011

Context for Ottawa Waters
On my journey into Ottawa down the Queensway I parallel the Ottawa River (known by the aboriginal peoples as the Kitchissippi) and cross culverted and bridged tributaries (Bilberry and Green's Creeks and the Rideau River). I am so busy driving and rushing towards my destination that I rarely stop to appreciate these waterways.In a TREE mapping exercise, I took the time to explore these riverine environments. This poem and the photos are the results. They show Bilberry Creek Bridge and its confluence with the Ottawa River, the Queensway culverts for Green's Creek and the Hurdman Bridge of the Queensway over the Rideau River.

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