Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is a healer who has been practicing the art of poetry for nearly fifty years. His healing work and most of his poetry is derived from his relationship with the natural world. He was the founding editor of the literary magazine, Five Fingers Review (1984-87)and the spiritual magazine, Sacred Fire (2005-2012). He has published several chapbooks of his poetry and is currently compiling a full-length manuscript called Divine Guidance. Jonathan lives in Cedar Mill with his wife, Dr. Jennifer Means, their daughter, Maya, and son, Eli, whose work has appeared in several issues of Honoring our Rivers. His elder daughter, Madeline, is an actress in Los Angeles. He can be reached at jonathan.l.merritt@outlook.com

About this poem

"Every Stream is a Sacred Being" was composed by the Cispus River in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. As I sat by the river near a smaller stream that was flowing into it, a sudden rain began falling. Sheltered under an old growth fir, I watched the smaller stream swell as the rain dripped off the needles. It felt so joyful--the rain, the swelling stream, the river flowing white over boulders. The exquisite music of this flowing made me feel the sacredness of the Cispus as it gathered the waters from the forest and poured them toward the Cowlitz River, to the great Columbia and to the Pacific Ocean where it's waters finally arrive. 


Every Stream Is a Sacred Being

She wells up from the earth
and channels down the mountain
carving the mineral wealth from the stone.  
It is her wealth.

She gathers her little sisters and brothers
as they trickle down through the forest.
She becomes her brothers and sisters
And they become her.

She carries her fish, 
feeds and shelters them.  
They are in her
She is in them.

She spreads her wealth
to the reeds and bushes and trees
and receives leaves, petals and stems.  
She becomes them.

She laughs all white in her rapids.
The wind swoops low above her
and carries her laughter
and becomes her voice.
She receives the rain and becomes the rain.
She spreads herself across the land
and takes in her body the vital soil.

The animals and people all drink from her.
She begrudges them nothing. 
She flows through their bodies and becomes their bodies, 
and receives their minerals and oils. 

She guides the people through the forest.
She guides the people back home.

She joins the river and becomes the river.
She feeds the fields and gives life to the cities.
She spreads wide in the delta and lingers there.

She gives herself to the holy of holies,
her mother, the sea, 
who welcomes her and becomes her
and carries her forever in her great watery heart.

 

Debut publication on page 65 in Honoring Our Rivers Issue 18.