Severn River Poem by Jill Shilvock

The Severn River

The Severn River should be
an artery, pumping a life-force
through Maryland,
refreshing the Chesapeake Bay.
Its pulses speaking to us,
of times gone by -
when deer, black bear and wolves roamed free.
Its majestic presence was there
before the advent of man
and will be there long after we are gone.
But, whilst we are here
we have a duty of care
to ensure that the river survives

Not existing as an open sore
where the yellow perch is a rare species,
spoken of only by old men.
In their dotage.
But a living, vibrant hub of
joyous games and play.
Fishing, sailing, skiing, swimming
Skimming stones on a warm Summer day.

Not existing as a sewer
where ground-water run-off
(contaminated with pollutants)
threatens the existence of all river life.
And water-borne diseases abound
confounding our desire
to take pleasure there.
Will this be its fate?
Don’t sail
Don’t ski
Don’t fish
Don’t swim
Have we left it too late?

About Jill Shilvock

Jill Shilvock lives in England in Stourbridge, which was once a crossing place of the River Stour, a tributary of the English River Severn.

She has an American internet friend with ancestors from Maryland, who directed her to the SRA web site where she learned about the area. She read The Severn River Log, and with Kurt Riegel’s encouragement wrote this poem.

She believes her free-form poem to lend itself to the subject much better than a (scrapped) rhyming poem in iambic pentameters which she wrote first. She uses the word ‘we’ throughout because the words are as relevant to her River Severn as to our Severn River.

Jill Shilvock works in the postroom of a local government office. She is married to a postman and has four teenage children.

(Revised Junel 2008)