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"Cascading Waters," Altered book, hand-cut waves of vintage, handmade and found blue papers including Thai, lokta, yuzen, marbled, and topographical antique maps, 10.5” W x 8.5” H x 3” D. Reprinted with permission. 2017 Honoring Our Rivers, Page 62. Originally appeared in Bind, Alter, Fold: Artist Books (Book Arts Editions 2015), a monograph of artist books.

Marilyn Stablein

Marilyn Stablein is an award-winning poet, essayist, fiction writer and artist. Her books include Bind, Alter, Fold: Artist Books; Splitting Hard Ground: Poems; Sleeping in Caves: A Himalayan Memoir and a collection of eco-essays set in the Northwest, Climate of Extremes: Landscapes and Imagination. Recent work appears in Make It True: A Cascadia Poetry Anthology. Her art is exhibited internationally. She teaches poetry, memoir and artist books.

"Oregon’s rivers, creeks and streams swell with an abundance of water from rain, natural springs and melting snow pack," says Stablein. "Water is never still. Waves, rapids and eddies ripple constantly. Water adheres to the momentum of descent, pulled by the invisible force of gravity to flow in meandering yet always downward directions.

"The Cascadia bioregion, a scientific name for the Pacific Northwest, is characterized by water cascading down the coastal mountains (Cascade range) and emptying into the sea.

"This altered book with hand cut waves collaged onto the scrolled pages honors and celebrates the Pacific Northwest bioregion and the element of water which is essential to all life on earth. This work is part of an ongoing series of written, performance, and visual works titled 'Sacred Waters'," Stablein says.

Cannery Pier


Sea lions swim Columbia’s
gaping maw, gorge on salmon—
largest run since Bonneville
barricaded their ancient
ancestral waterway.  

 Twice a day ocean tides
rework Astoria’s inland
shore. Wavelets swell, 
thrust, jam rhythms
of shallow descent.

 Stalwart lions congregate
upriver, cram every inch
of rickety wood marina
dock near Cannery Pier
cafe where we grip coffee

 mugs tight, inhale luscious
steam, strong brew. Ceaseless
waves below sway the deck
like a gentle earthquake
rocks my bones. Suddenly

 streamlined whiskered snout
pierces murky depth. Envious
newcomer surveys the crowd.
Satisfied he hooks front
flippers on wood ledge

 launches bulging hefty body
atop the others. Arf! Arf! Arf!
A chorus of mock raucous
grousing subsides slightly
as one more squeezes in.

 Packed tight as sardines,
a game I once played—
shut your eyes. One player

hides. Lone hunter seeks.
All others search, too, then
secretly cramp, whisper
together, snug hideout. 
Loud barks audible
a mile uphill. Do they
yelp about rising waters?

Smaller anchovy runs? 
On and on late into,
through the night. Barks
jar the dreaming mind’s
worries, night sweats.


Published on page 63 in the 2017 Honoring Our Rivers.