The commercial river trip season on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park was supposed to have started in April. But, like most things, it’s been sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic This week, officials at the Park announced plans to let river trips resume in mid-June. It’s unclear how commercial outfitters will rebuild trip schedules and bring back employees J.P. Running has been a guide on the Colorado River for nearly 30 years. He is missing his job, obviously, but he’s also missing the Canyon. In this week’s Poetry Friday segment, J.P. shares a poem he wrote called Chasing the Seasons with Orion. It transports us to the banks of the Colorado River.
JPR: My name is JP Running. I’ve been a river guide pretty much more than half my life, over 30 years now. A friend of mine asked me to write a little piece for the Grand Canyon River Guides Association newsletter. I started out writing a story, and I realized that it was actually not quite a story but more of a poem.
What I wanted to think about when I was writing the story was, kind of, not being able to see where home has been for more than half my life. You know, what do I think about throughout the course of the summer and the river season?
I always thought about time. You can always witness time. You can actually feel the world changing through time, through the course of a summer. Missing out on that due to current circumstances is kind of a daunting reality to face. I thought about times at Pearce Ferry in the fall, and then times at Lee’s Ferry in the spring.
So, my story actually changed into a poem, and it’s called Chasing the Seasons with Orion.
The velvety blue dawn
The aroma of that first cup of coffee
I woke too early
My eyesight isn’t what it used to be
But I can still see the Pleiades
Orion is chasing them
Time for the River to sleep after a long summer
Happiness mixed with a little adversity
But mostly happiness
The ripples on the water reflect that velvety sky
Fleeting reflections of the universe
How can one not feel gifted to see such a living, breathing reality
A sentient entity
I feel small
My coffee tastes good, it warms me
My body is tired, my feet are cracked, my back hurts just a little bit
Like the flies in monsoon season
But not too much of a bother
The ripples gently start glowing orange, reflecting the cliff walls
Contrasting the blue dawn in their troughs
The Pleiades start hiding in the brightening blue sky
Orion chases them for a few more moments
People begin stirring
Coffee, breakfast, adventure
Life and gift of reality
Reverence mixed with lots of laughter
Night always comes again
It represents just a tick of time
A week, or a month, or a year
Or a lifetime
Orion chases the Pleiades
I look forward to seeing them outrun him
In the spring
In the western evening sky
Time will forget me
But I will remember time.
(Music: Take Me to the River, Talking Heads)
Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu.