Monday, May 27, 2019

DMC: "Instructions for a River" by Cheriee Weichel


Acquiesce to the seasons.
Satiate yourself on snow melt and spring rain.
Rescue runoff from rivulets and streams.
Tumble white and wild over boulders and rocks.
Careen screaming over cliffs, and then
Ease off and etch oxbows onto plains.
Keep within your banks.
Flood only when necessary.
Slow down in summer, even rivers need a rest.
Gorge yourself on autumn storms and then,
Come winter, rest, encased in ice.

Acknowledge your importance, but
Remember, you are part of a larger cycle.
Share some of your cargo with the sun.
Hydrate the plants that grow near your shores.
Vanquish the thirst of animals congregating there.
Replenish oceans and lakes.

Be mindful of your responsibilities.
Harbour insects of all kinds.
Calm your whirlpools around nesting fowl.
Be gentle with amphibians and reptiles.
Mind your manners around mammals,
but keep those beavers in check.
Nurture fish of all species.
Guard their eggs til they hatch.
Tend the fry till they are ready and then,
Show them the way to ocean and lake.
Welcome them home when they return.

Provide for your people.
Cradle canoes and kayaks.
Float flies and fishing lines downstream.
Scrape out swimming holes.
Rehabilitate yourself when you are desecrated.
Be kind to us, even when we are undeserving.
And fierce when you must, but
Please don’t take our loved ones from us.
Let the rumble of your passing be a persistent lullaby.

© 2019 Cheriee Weichel (draft). All rights reserved.

Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:


  1. This is beautiful, Cheriee! I'm usually hesitant to feature longer poems, but this is so effective with its separate parts describing each instruction in detail. And that last line... wow. The perfect send off.

    1. Thank you so much Michelle. You can probably tell that I love being around rivers! I've been working on this off and on since I read about the challenge and kept coming up with more things they do. I also hope that some of these instructions will resonate for all of us.

  2. Oh, Cheriee, you've given the river's responsibilities with poetic charges so beautifully. It's hard to choose favorite lines, but like Michelle, that final line is a wonder of an ending, and I also love "even rivers need a rest". This belongs in an anthology somewhere!

    1. Thank you so much Linda. I'm glad that it is getting read and that people are enjoying it.

  3. Simply beautiful. I love many parts of this, but the last stanza particularly. Thanks for a sweet poem.

  4. Moving and powerful poem Cheriee, and unfortunately the river has a mind of its own showing us who is actually in charge.

    1. It certainly does, although I think that we are doing things to our environment that force them into actions they might not otherwise engage in.

  5. This is lovely, and I'm so glad you kept going and kept exploring.

    1. The more I learn about rivers, the more I am in awe of them. I did my best to honour them.