Lorraine Jeffery

Lorraine Jeffery

Plenty was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

Never ending slate-gray sky dripped 
into more than a hundred Western 
Oregon rivers that carved 
my childhood.
Rubber soles squished on
varnished schoolroom floors, 
umbrellas molding 
in the corner. 
When summer-pink skies 
rained warm, and stretched
to the Cascades,
the rivers were ours: 
native Kalapuya waters of 
Willamette, Umpqua, 
Tillamook, Siuslaw; 
fur trader canoes plied
McKensie and Deschutes; and 
settlers named their bounty  
Applegate, Williams 
and John Day.
Rivers all, giving life in their rush 
to the Pacific. Young thoughts
were far downstream from history
and those who'd pioneered the
Land of the Empire Builders. 
We swam, waded, threw rocks, 
fished and floated rivers. 
Never knowing desert places
of mesquite, juniper and cacti
where parceled water is channeled
into concrete ditches, 
every precious drop
bound for alfalfa or wheat fields—
where water is life.

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