Tsagaglalal: She Who Watches

She sits above the River of the West,
An owl-eyed effigy in living rock
Where sly Coyote, possibly in jest,
Transformed a woman chief who liked to talk
From matriarch to stark facsimile.
The Trickster missed his bet: the People gave
Her more respect once she clammed up. Thus free
To be her busybody self, a slave
To bringing Spring Chinook upstream on time,
She found the People kneeling at her feet.
The dam that drowned Celilo Falls, a crime
Beyond all fathoming, caused her retreat.
To say the dam's an eggshell understates
The force that lurks where She Who Watches waits.

[First published in The Oregonian]