A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2006, vol 2 no 4

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Ray Rasmussen


Weathered stairs lead to an overlook I call 'the vista'. From up here, rush hour traffic is a river of headlights, the din below reduced to a murmur, the dusk skyline tinted a yellow-gray.

100,000 years ago, the North Saskatchewan River began carving this valley from a flat plane crushed by glaciers. It winds Northeast, feeding sediments to Hudson's Bay, nourishing small water organisms, sustaining the chain of life.

And here, at the top of the stairs, my beating heart pushes a tiny river through my veins. Just lately, I've started to carry a note: "In case of death or injury call ... ." I'd like it to also say "Don't resuscitate," but I know that should the paramedics find me still alive, they'll turn me into something akin to that mechanical river flowing below, force fluids through through reluctant arteries, push oxygen into failed lungs.

In another 100,000 years, there will be another river of ice, these human artifacts crushed. But, the river of water will still flow, the valley will be carved yet deeper, the chain of life sustained.

returning again
to the river valley vista–
saskatoon blooms