Spring Floods

This morning I visit the Skeena River in full flood. Its torrent of water heedless of all obstructions engulf the base of cottonwoods, whole trees uproot and whip down the channel in a highway of debris, whirlpools are wild and astonishing, walking trails sucked away. The very air quivers with Skeena’s strength.

It does not seem very faraway when  Terrace was declared a state of emergency in 2007. That year the river entered our home.


Terrace Flood 2007

The community of Terrace is largely isolated from the rest of the province… A mudslide and flooding have closed a highway and left the CN main line under water.

Rivers’ underground life expands,
the earths swollen cavities form veins and capillaries
fan their way beneath our home
three blocks from the main flow.

Water rises through the concrete floor,
jack hammer releases a geyser of spray
cold and clean as  deep springs,
drone of the pump a tireless grumble.

I had a  sanctuary along the riverbank,
nook of trees in cool relief,
feel water wrap around
like soft breath upon my face
whisper secrets of  her large body

River canyons compressed waters
open streams shift in complete surrender
my refuge gouged out with spring swell
In its place a steep slice of bank.

The Skeena River is above flood stage. The discharge is the second largest recording measured in seventy-seven years. Substantial snow remains in the Skeena Basin.

The basement transforms into an underground cave,
frigid tendrils settle in walls and furnishings.
early morning mist saturates the upper rooms.
I huddle in blankets, drink green tea
remember my childhood home.

Stucco walls chipped around the bottom
like scabs continually picked away.
Wire mesh, a brittle skeletal shell exposes
fist sized holes that lead to a crawl space.

My mother alone with four small children
worn thin with this house

Water levels are dropping or at least not rising so fast. Cooler than seasonal weather has put the brakes on snow melt.      B.C. Environment Forecast Center, 2007

A thin skin of water envelopes the cement floor
trickles into sides of the hole, pump slows.
Silence fills the space with an eerie vacuum.

Months later I dream of Skeena,
a pool forms outside my door,
I dive in fully clothed,
swim out to the open river.
A shadowy presence moves alongside
swift and sure.

I am not alone

The river no longer quiet
waits just below my floor.


About Joan Conway

My artistic passions are poetry and collage. But I am curious human, always exploring new mediums, new opportunities for creative expressions.
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3 Responses to Spring Floods

  1. lizmax2014 says:

    Joan, that sent shivers up my spine…I lived on a river and know the feeling of spring flood, but nothing as powerful as this…and your words…”My mother alone with four children, worn thin by this house” and more powerful “The river no longer silent waits just below my floor.” all of your words put together beat strong in my chest…thank you as always for your insights…love Liz

  2. Joan Conway says:

    Liz, as always your sensitivity touches me deeply, as you well know writing exists in relationship with others, nothing is more pleasing when someone connects and gets it… you are that person, I sure wish we could live closer and share writing. Maybe a visit North ??

    • lizmax2014 says:

      Yes, I would love to visit..maybe one day we will fly or take the boat again…the dog is elderly and i will wait until she decides to go..I would love to see more of you, and spend more time with Cheri too. Meanwhile i enjoy your art work, your studio, your writing and your blogs…thanks to my little laptop….Liz

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