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Woven Words: Poetry of the Sonoran Desert

Turning Water Policy Documents into Poetry

present and future meander as riparian dreams : pulse flow in the small eddies of our hearts : of new water the delta sings : tributaries within our thoughts are the river's memory of a bird just alight from a branch on its bank
Photos by Liz Kemp

How can we bring poetry into our human relationship with flowing water, across state and country boundaries, and with the other species that rely on that flowing water and have a right to it just as much as we do?

The poems on the window of the Cottonwood Café are by the Desert Museum’s Poet in Residence, Eric Magrane. The short poems use phrases from two important Arizona water policy documents as their first lines.

Two of the lines are from the 1922 Colorado River Compact, an agreement between seven western states that divided the water of the Colorado River among these states. Since then, various factors including human consumption and damming of the river have prevented the waters of the Colorado from reaching its natural outlet in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

The other two lines are from Minute 319 of the International Boundary and Water Commission between the United States and Mexico, from 2012. This agreement allowed for 2014’s pulse flow in the Colorado River delta, which enabled water from the Colorado River to flow all the way to the Sea of Cortez for the first time in half a century.

“The pulse flow began on March 23, 2014 and lasted for 8 weeks. Our team of Desert Museum staff and partners was lucky enough to witness it just after peak flow, on April 9 - 10, and help to plant almost 2,000 cottonwood and willow seedlings at the Laguna Grande restoration site,” wrote Debbie Colodner, ASDM Director of Conservation Education and Science, about a Desert Museum trip to the delta to witness the flow. Many organizations are working together to secure the water these restored riparian communities will need to survive.

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