Beyond Androscoggin

The ebb and flow shower over
grayish rocks of old Great Falls;
Cool and quick, white water rapids
shimmer clear and clean under the mist.
The memories of an indelible pollution,
smoky mills and a river’s bitter ruins
are submerged beneath her surging waves.

We take upon these rising rushing waters
in canoes with courage in our hearts –
then off we go into the river’s fluxing flow,
where we drift away from home and high school,
toward college and our noble futures.

Some of us paddle along to CMCC,
or swirl and cheer, riding an eddy to Andover.
Along and down the mighty Androscoggin,
we traverse her graceful course worn by the years,
over the ancient bedrock of mystic Maine.
Sailing on her timeless form, we wave and shout
to friends at USM, or sip and talk all about
the Arts and premieres at lovely Bates –
All now common places brimming with
brave students on uncommon, unique journeys.

As we go may we all recall our youths in Lewiston and Auburn,
the thriving towns that nurtured our opportunities.
We all grew up here, among rivers, bricks and evergreens;
And while we slowly row down the river towards the sea,
to where effort, love and wanderlust will lead us,
we can see many a destination, and begin to realize that the
intuition from our local college educations is the panacea
that can cleanse the dark mill dust from our skin and clothes
and deliver us into a place that the passage of time only knows.

Notes: This was a competition piece for a scholarship by the Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce. It’s quite college-oriented as a result, but I feel it is a powerful dedication to the ancient Androscoggin River. Ever since I was little, the Great Falls have always fascinated me with their might and importance to the area. Without the Androscoggin, L/A would have not been the largest shoe producer in the world (I believe) around the time of WW1. The irony here is that that the result of our powerful industry and endless, giant brick mills, is that Androscoggin became one of the most polluted rivers on Earth, colorful and smelly. It is still slowly recovering and you can “smell the past” on its waters.


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