Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lost Under Church

* Canoe trip through one of the larger city caves -- Barton Creek Cave.

Lost Under Our Church

Sunday Jay came back from
selling icons at Maria’s Rock n Roll church —
a South Austin funky and delightful
Taco bar with an outdoor stage that
hosts legendary Austin musicians who blast
Gospel music on Sundays from soul to God,
while Austin Body Choir dances
in sweltering heat, or cool autumn light —

and said, “That news story about the cavers
lost in Austin, it’s right behind Maria’s.”

The week before Dr. Joe and I were
talking about the salamanders at Barton Springs,
an endangered species which used to live
in the pool, and now live in nearby
Eliza Spring where they have been nurtured
into a new colony by our pool biologist.

He said they had left the pool because of poor
water conditions and had gone to Eliza,
which used to be called the Polio Pit,
and is a rather unattractive concrete well
between the children’s railroad tracks
and the concession stand next to the pool.

“With little suitcases?” I suggested.

“No, they travel through the aquifer,” he said,
which makes me think about the limestone,
karst tunnels, sink holes, underground streams
that wind through this porous part of the Earth’s
surface – how delicate they are, how
little we know about their winding reality.

The city is digging new sewer lines alongside
and even underneath the creek and I wonder
how many underground waterways will break.

Do we know the salamanders traveled through
the aquifer, or did they spawn from the ones
who traveled in buckets carried to Eliza
by our biologist?

With this and a thousand other questions
in mind, I consider a new Master Plan
for Barton Springs Pool which has been
drawn by consultants, a small group
of swimmers and city staff —
not by a city wide stake holder process.
Most people don’t even know about it.

Barton Springs is my church, the way
Maria’s is church for people who create
gospel music, rock n roll, body choir.

So today, I pray in my own way —
we will not get lost underground,
or above ground, scraping away natural
vegetation, jamming karst with jack hammers,
building new dams, bath houses, holding ponds,
dredging the bottom of the pool, where
salamanders used to live, (are some still there?)
bringing huge construction equipment
into the pool area for a decade
to accomplish a Master Plan for Barton
Springs Pool which could turn our beautiful
natural pool into an urban sport club to serve
huge condo and skyscraper projects going
up along the river.

Of course, we need to repair, even restore,
existing structures —

but do we want a decade of construction
projects poolside?

Do we know enough about what’s beneath
our church to tear up the foundation?

Can we keep from getting lost underneath
and alongside our church?

© Susan Bright, 2007

Action Alert (for our Texas readers):

If you believe that the Master Plan for Barton Springs Pool deserves an extended community wide public stake holder process to both develop and vet what could be a decade of poolside construction projects —

If you think the Pool Master Plan report, to be submitted by Friends of Barton Springs Pool and consultants this fall, should be posted in its entirety for public review at least 30 days before it goes to Council –

If you don't know what is in the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan and don't want it approved until your community has had time to understand it —

Use this link to send a letter.

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-ninety books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

Announcement: The Plain View Press e-store is online.



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