A Confluence of Two Rivers: “Roll on Columbia” By Zachary Eddy

A Confluence of Two Rivers: “Roll on Columbia”

The Wenatshapam River is just like my mother.
—John Harmelt, the last P’squosa Chief

Post Office one; Post Office two; tulip petals fall
from too many tulip trees that hide a man raking
a bed, hiding where alcoholics sleep. Where two
bronze balls on a diving-man statue — below
an American flag — advertise your small town
museum. Inside: Clyde Pangborn invites you to fly

into the future. You are being watched through
slots that deliver you like mail, back to when chain-
smoking suits washed off a stench inside marble
showers and smeared living people out of black-
and-white photographs. Upside-Down Pang flies
into your Sister City across the great Pacific.

Upstairs: Pangborn smiles with his French darling,
Swana Beaucaire; an avalanche of snow falls cold
like karma on white washed train tracks; and Chinese
miners are un-welcomed in your good Christian town,
sees Mike Horan; kept hammering and shoveling, sees
Isaac Ingalls Stevens; and underpaid, sees James J. Hill.
Celebrate your town’s tycoons — and keep moving

to the Clovis tips; Clovis cutters; woolly mammoth baby
bones. Obsidian, cutting through a windowless sky-
bridge: You hear Woodie Guthrie squalling, “Roll on
Columbia roll on. Roll on Columbia roll on.” over a
man humming along, unscrewing a bulb glaring down
on you. “Your power is turning our darkness to dawn.”

Downstairs: More Apple Industry Icons rejoice the
mysterious Skookum soil; grinning, an Indian boy cries
apples inside; a pagan queen offers a sacrifice too sweet
to refuse: Trade ripened, red tree fruit for a blossoming
princess every April. “Roll on Columbia roll on.” Now,
look the other way, and “roll on” out of here, back the
way you and David Thompson sailed in, and don’t forget
to sign the guestbook; and tell your friends you came.

By Zachary Eddy


Zachary Eddy was a co-editor of Mirror Northwest, a yearly literary journal of Creative Writing at Wenatchee Valley College (WVC), and a senior at Central Washington University looking to attend a MFA program in 2018. His poem “Fish Eyes” won the 2017 WVC Earth Day Poetry contest. His article “The Eagle Screamed in North Central Washington” was published in the Fall 2016 edition of the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center’s quarterly journal, The Confluence.

Leave a Reply