Snowy — the Reflections of a River

© Brenda Joy

Winner, 2014 Gilgandra Coo-ee Festival, Open Section and Overall Winner, Gilgandra NSW.

Clear snow-melt, Alpine rivers start their pure and trickling course
      within a region sanctified by time,
      amidst a pristine wonderland sublime.
Their waters are my source.

When summer sunlight brings release from blanketing of snow,
    the slopes of kingly Kosciuszko drain,
    then joined by lower-reaches’ winter rain,
my tributaries flow.

I am the Snowy River! Once, all powerful and free,
    I forged my course through Alps and Tablelands,
    through mountains, plains and basin’s coastal sands,
and emptied in the sea.

Two hundred miles my waters surged in unimpeded flow
    through country inaccessible and vast.
    Such mighty days — but grandeur did not last
for Man decreed it so.

The Snowy Mountains’ hydro scheme began my time of strife —
    a monumental engineering feat,
    an ‘icon’ of Australia built to meet
the needs of human life.

So many areas have thrived from waters which I lost
    Redistribution helped a nation grow,
    but I was left with one percent of flow.
My dying was the cost.

My crystal pools were shallowed out with sediment and weed
    whilst infiltrating blue-green algae spread
    its filament throughout my cobbled bed.
Invading pests could breed.

Sporadic rains brought only drips of sustenance to ease
    entanglement.  My base remained unflushed —
    a murky mass.  Where once great torrents gushed
now lungs were left to wheeze.

For me, the human need demanded sacrifice too great,
    but modern ways of thinking brought reprieve.
    A plan was implemented to relieve
my un-replenished state.

Concern for the environment put focus on my plight.
    Release of water through my tortured veins
    cascaded through the hills and coastal plains —
a semblance of my might.

An interval of promise stirred. Once more I felt alive,
    and subsequently, flushes, in accord
    with flow rate needed, saw my hope restored.
I knew I could survive.

Through trial and error Man has learnt that balance must be shown.
    His need was to restrain my untamed flair
    but not without environmental care.
His knowledge base has grown.

For future projects Man is obligated to explain
    effects upon the waterways and land.
    If I have served to help him understand,
my hurt’s not been in vain.

Through devastation I’ve endured, perhaps the wild-life will
    have habitats and feeding grounds conserved,
    and maybe heritage will be preserved!
A promise to fulfil! 

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