Inaugural Poem Conjures Colorado River That Flows to the Sea

The Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam (courtesy of lawdawg1, Flickr Creative Commons)


The inauguration of President Barack Obama for his second term was viewed by millions and will be remembered in the history books.  There is a lot at stake in this presidency; there always is.  But I sat up and took notice when I heard Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet, read “One Today,” the work he wrote for the occasion:

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed

their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked

their way to the sea.

Blanco’s images are powerful – one sun, one ground, one sky uniting our multitudes.  That he chose the mighty Colorado as illustration speaks to the iconic nature of the river that tumbles from snow in the mountains and across the desert on its journey to the Sea of Cortez.

I have no idea if Blanco knows that the Colorado hasn’t completed its route to the sea – at least not on a regular basis – for decades.  Nor if he knows that a heroic team of negotiators from the United States and Mexico made commitments to right that wrong in a new Treaty agreement signed in November 2012.  The two countries, assisted by conservation organizations on both sides of the border, are going to put water back into the Colorado’s desiccated delta sometime in the next few years.

There are many reasons to hope the experiment is a success, including wildlife, communities, and jobs.  Blanco reminds us of another, that the Colorado River defines us.  I’m hopeful we can fix it.





Meet the Author
Jennifer Pitt is the Colorado River Project Director for Environmental Defense Fund. She works with Colorado River water users throughout the Colorado River basin—including seven states in the United States and two in Mexico—to develop practical programs to restore river habitats and to dedicate water to environmental resources. She has worked as a park ranger and a Congressional aide, and has a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from Yale University.