PoetrySnaps! Holly Sullivan, To You
Colorado River guides who are in relationships with other Colorado River guides are sometimes on the water at the same time, but on different trips. It’s a unique, romantic kind of adventure being simultaneously separated and connected by the same body of water. Page-based poet Holly Sullivan captures the experience beautifully in her poem To You. Sullivan spent years as a boat swamper in the Grand Canyon and today shares her take on river love.
It is a love poem which is funny because I don’t usually write those. But this sprung up in the unique situation where you are on the river at the same time as your lover, or whoever. It could be a friend, too, whatever it is. In this case it was a lover! And they’re upstream of you, or downstream of you. And it’s this funny experience where you kind of call out to one another across the waves. It’s sort of spiritual, you know? It can be a really cool experience to know that I’m going to pass by this point and they’re going to pass by this point two days from now. And then the weirdest thing is when the person who’s downstream gets off the river and goes back to Lees Ferry, and now they’re above you!
So this poem is about love, but it’s really about time and about place and about just how weird it is being down there.
Oh lover of mine downstream
where the desert is seasoned and mean
if I send you the coolness of shadows and shade
and the imprint in sand where I lathered and laid
will you send me the breath of a dream?
For I’ve made a deal with the river,
weighed down with all that I can give her.
But is the wind on the walls only lying to me,
when it speaks of a man,
on a boat near the seas,
and the love that he left to deliver?
The wind of west warms the willows
and my mind as it rests on my pillow,
and the river beneath me is chilly and cold
and it brings you relief as the love that I’ve told
you I’ve has since the very first “hello.”
Tomorrow you’ll head to the North,
with fluidity go on you course
And if out in the world of that cosmic debris
loss of logic and law
finds you thinking of me
will you humble your heart and come forth?
Hang your head and come back to the source?
Where up from the Earth springs a river of love
And a dewdrop of truth finds its way from above
And I’m waiting in sandals and shorts.
Yes, I’m waiting in sandals and shorts.
About the poet:
Holly Sullivan is a poet and artist based in Page, Arizona. She says she writes poetry to help organize her chaotic inner world into bite-sized passages. Her latest book of poems is entitled Goodbye, Highway 89.
About the host:
Steven Law is the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps! He is a poet, essayist, storyteller, and the author of Polished, a collection of poems about exploring the Colorado Plateau by foot and by raft.
About the music:
Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.
PoetrySnaps! runs the first and third Friday of each month.