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Monday, October 01, 2007


by Joan Gelfand

Ancient lore recounts I was born with a princess’ spirit, a princess with a dream,
Of a chosen love, not pre-ordained. I lived on beauty, on dancing, in a dream.

I was re-born in slender dolphin’s form. Followed stars, planets, a moonbeam
(I refused the ugly suitor; my parents drowned me - this was no dream.)

Across continents I journeyed to the Yangtze, a river so rich, so very pristine.
Immersed in pure waters, I sang and swam and loved – this is not a dream.

I lived my new life for millions, yes, millions of years – I reigned supreme
Until you dammed the river! Destroyed our food, then a dream

That I was dying from lethal, man-made things. You didn’t heed my scream
My warning: You will pay for fouling the waters, for the misguided dream

Of shipping on my river, my delicate home. Still, you want to be redeemed
By forgiving waters; you dispatched scientists by boatloads - they didn’t dream

That I would leave this place forever – leave the stench, the once pure stream
Damaged ages of equipoise, yearning forever for that first kaleidoscopic dream.

*the rare river dolphin that inhabited, until its extinction in 2006, China's Yangtze River.

Winner of the 2005 Chaffin Fiction Award, Joan Gelfant's letters, essays, poetry and stories have appeared in numerous national literary journals and anthologies including The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers, If Women Ruled the World, and The Streets of New York. Her story "The Art Critic" was nominated for a 2006 Carver short story award. Joan holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, California. A compelling moderator and speaker, Joan founded Salon CIEL, a group of interdisciplinary artists. She is currently serving as Vice-President of the Women's National Book Association.