Eight inches at its widest,
a half-inch deep, it flows
across the disused logging road
from its hillside spring,
then tumbles down toward Bee Branch,
too small even to splash or babble
unless I kneel down close,
and then I hear it.
Bee Branch goes rushing down
the mountain into Jones Creek
on the flat; Jones flows into
Bowers Creek by Deep Gap Road,
and that runs a long way,
gathering all kinds of water, to
the Nantahala, which carries
rafters and other life-forms,
and ends in the well-dammed
Little Tennessee, and then it’s
the Tennessee itself through three states
to the Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Gulf.
Yes, if I kneel I can hear it
trickling across the log-road,
running crystal clear from its
damp spot of a spring.
If you stuck a turbine in it, you couldn’t
light a bulb. And yet without it
something would have no way
of living—the insects that tap
across its surface, the moss that overhangs
its three-inch cascade to the road,
the grass-shoot in its middle,
the sprouts of cress along its edge.
It is everything a watercourse
should be, supporting countless
lives throughout its run
of thirty yards, bearing its tale
from the hillside down toward the sea.
are you so convinced
you’re doing any better?