Tag Archives: elizabeth bishop

Brushy Creek Runs Through It


The beautiful Brushy Creek on the campus of UW-Richland.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” Norman MacLean A River Runs Through It

“It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free”  Elizabeth Bishop “At the Fishhouses” 

Running water changes everything
and nothing. You can stand on the banks and count
the number of trout you see in Brushy Creek

just like you’ve done for half a century
or more, fishing or just thinking how
running water changes everything.

I like to pause there and pretend every morning
that some of my stress is floating away and down.
The number of trout you see in Brushy Creek

does vary, depending. I confess I’ve never seen
a single one, but that doesn’t make me doubt.
Running water changes everything

about a place. It gives our landscape meaning.
It shows us how to shift some things without
running the risk of harming the trout in Brushy Creek,

without giving up the goal of learning
who we are and what our genius loci’s all about.
Running water changes everything
except the number of trout you see in Brushy Creek.



Post script:  apparently it’s BRUSH CREEK, not BRUSHY CREEK.  I think maybe I knew that at some point.  Or maybe not.  There’s not a sign anywhere, and I am very texty….  And I don’t hear well… But really, no excuse. I’ve been here since 1992.  I really ought to know better.  But I ain’t changing the poem because Brushy Creek scans better than Brush Creek.  Honestly, I think it should be Brushy Creek.  I might keep calling it that and see if it catches on.

Truck Pulling the Moon

“He thinks the moon is a small hole at the top of the sky,

proving the sky quite useless for protection. “ Elizabeth Bishop, “The Man-Moth”


Astigmatism flattened what was coming

At me, wide load, giant silo, creamy

And perfectly round. For a moment, I was the Man-Moth,

Understanding what I saw, but not

As what it was.

The sunrise in the rear-view mirror,

Crepuscular rays pulling electric gray

From pewter clouds: for sure a religious calendar,

As my old friend Dennis used to say.

I’ve been forgetting lately what day it is,

What time, or what semester, fall or spring,

And right before my alarm went off this morning,

I dreamed that I had dawdled so long I was

More than an hour late.  I woke up relieved.


Blessed are those who have seen and yet believed.