On the San Saba

Old timers tell
of baptisms
in the living water.

Cascades of souls,
clad full in white,
down the muddy banks
lives made right.

We use the baptistry now.
And the river rises
to my ankles.

Lord Christ, this River!
Wash us in the mud!

Author’s Note: I write in the poem about the San Saba, the small river on which I grew up in West Texas, which has recently been listed by American Rivers as being among the most endangered rivers in the United States. I wanted to express in the poem both the sense of loss I feel about the river’s decline but also the regret that I feel about the way my local community—the small town Christians of the area—has failed to recognize the sacredness of the river and our sacred responsibility toward it.