A Poem From Chair Of Our Green Committee
Our River’s Plea
by Lynn Johnson@2022
For thousands of years, I flowed between Willows, Oaks and Cottonwood.
Native peoples fished in my waters, and beavers built dams.
Birds filled the air with song.
Butterflies took nectar from the flowers along my banks.
Life was peaceful and unchanging,
until you who are pale of face arrived.
You created farms, and said you owned me.
You trapped the beaver for their fur.
You chopped down trees for your houses and barns.
Native people left in sorrow,
no longer able to live as they did before.
They had called me “Little River,”
knowing I ran to my mother in the East.
They understood my seasons.
When the Spring rains came,
they moved to higher ground.
More and more pale faces came.
You created roads,
and more buildings to house your produce.
You chopped down more trees to grow
your crops of corn and tobacco.
You called me the “Woods River,”
as I meandered through
the autumn trees of red and gold.
Now most of those forests are gone.
Then you built factories along my muddy banks.
You called me the “Mill River,
and used me as a dump for industrial waste.
Next you raised pigs alongside my shores.
You let their excrement seep into my waters.
I was becoming more and more polluted,
and my smell more putrid.
You called me the ”Hog River.
” When your Mark Twain moved to Hartford,
I was still beautiful.
He caught sight of me shining,
and built his house on a hill for that view.
Your Horace Bushnell tried to save me
by creating space in your city through which
I could flow, to my mother,
the Connecticut River.
Then you called me the “Park River.
” But you turned against me when my waters rose,
as they do every Spring.
You decided to bury me,
and spent millions of your dollars
to build concrete tunnels underneath the ground.
You forced me through them,
and most of me disappeared,
so an avenue full of cars is what
passes by the Twain home.
What is left of me above ground you call
“The North Branch of the Park River.”
Now your driveways and parking lots
are built on my floodplains.
When the Spring rains come,
what do you expect me to do?
You dump your dirty snow,
full of dog poop and oil from your cars,
into my waters.
How do you expect me to smell?
My champion, Mary Pelletier, fights for me.
She calls on you to restore my floodplains
She asks you to strengthen my banks
with pollinator plants and native trees.
She begs you to stop your waste water
from polluting mine.
Will I continue to be your dumping place,
or will you protect and clean my waters?
Will you give me room to shine and flow again?
It’s up to you.
Lynn Johnson has lived by the North Branch of the Park River for over twenty years. She is chair of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood’s Green Committe