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by Abby Ghent | AbbyGhent.com

I have been hidden away. I have been forced from my natural place to an unnatural one. One that is dark and full of my own echoes. I have been used against my will. I used to be willing, but then I was abused. There have been times when I barely survived. I want to go back to the way things were, when I helped to grow food and medicine. I was an expert at providing essential nutrients and minerals to those that needed it. Now, although I still am able to give those necessities, I am contaminated, there are things in me that I cannot remove, try as I might.
I used to be important, I gave life. I used to be respected, loved, worshipped even. I am the reason so many are here. They felt safe by my side and they understood that I needed my space but yearned for their touch. I enjoyed their awe of me and I helped them to understand my ways. They made sure they never took too much from me, they did not want me to become weak. They understood that we needed each other, but more, they understood that they needed me to be with them forever, not just right now. I was not planning to go anywhere.
Now I am unsure of who I am and who I can trust. My vision has become murky, altered by fear and frustration. When did I become a second thought? When did I lose their respect? They do not want to see me; I intrude on their space. I used to be a part of their space. I am a nuisance; I am in the way. I used to be the way, I was what they followed. They know how to access me without interacting with me.  I feel like an outsider, I used to be their brother. I am no longer loved. Will I ever be set free?
I hope. I wait. I cannot do it myself. My time is running out.

The river sings to me. I can hear its sad melody. If you listen closely, a light, happy jingle can be heard underneath the more powerful rush of the minor chords. A reminder of the simple innocence maintained by the life of the river before humans took all that away. The water carries with it a bouquet of aromas. Musty and moldy at times of decay, winter. But fresh bursts of air can always be found hanging above the surface. A bubble waiting to be burst and explode forth a cloud of crisp scents. Those of spring water and green plants, frozen from the recent drop in temperature, but seized in the way the ice has captured all it holds. A time capsule of the reminders of summer, of sweetness, waiting to be set free by the strong sun that will come.  

The water holds life; you can see it where the cool clear liquid slows enough to gather color on its stomach. I always imagine the water is face up, as if a human floating on their back. I like to give the river a human quality, something easy to relate to because I will never truly understand the knowledge and power the river possesses. I want to look at the truth of nature and see it for what it is, but I am only human, and although I am growing, at this point I must view it in a way that I can come to an understanding. My mind urges me to get to the bottom of these nonhuman forms and see them as my own species, but my heart reminds be that it is important to let things remain unfamiliar.

The river is not human. It is important to realize that. It cannot speak our language, and to a certain point, it cannot challenge us or resist our want to change it, to move it out of the way, put it underground. But maybe if more people thought of it as one of our own, it would receive more respect than it is currently receiving. If we put a face to the thing we are abusing, will it get more attention? If we gave it a name and told everyone where it was born, who its parents are, its favorite place to meander, favorite month of the year? If we gave it a personality a history and a future, would people listen?

But it has a name, and it has a history, but its future is looking dim. No river wants to be used for a patch of grass next to a dirty road, a piece of land that no one uses. The river wants to reach its final destination, the place to which it has always run. The waterways in the Salt Lake City area, and specifically the creek I have come to know, Emigration Creek, end at the Great Salt Lake, their salty terminus. They want to be greeted by the birds that have flown thousands of miles to rest in this great shallow sea. This lake that provides no water for us, but an immense gathering place for many incredible species. This lake that we cannot use for our gain or our pleasure is a critical place for these species and although it is not obvious to those who do not take the time to know, it is critical for our survival as well.

We as a human population are taking away these futures of water. We are ripping the dreams of the conference of waters in the Great Salt Lake out of the arms of these constantly providing, voiceless waterways. The veins that keep our lands livable, are clotting. If we are not careful, our lands will go into cardiac arrest and it will be our fault. We need to let our rivers and streams run free. We need to let them carry us, not fight the rush of rapids. In our attempt to overpower one of the most powerful elements we know, we are overpowering ourselves. When will we finally listen to the melody of the water? It needs us. It cannot break out of its underground pipe prison on its own.