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The East Drosophilia River.

(from Looking at 'The Falling River' an essay by a student at the University of Ex.)

"The best poets who write about nature expand their meaning beyond their subject matter," wrote Pittaya Songpit in his essay Earth and Death. "They are either contemplative from a human point of view, or else through their words they turn themselves into trees and blades of grass and view the world from that direction." Agnes Moulcrumpet's poem 'The Falling River' attacks its subject matter, the East Drosophilia River, from both angles. Songpit's 'or else' is eliminated. The river's rocky bed is first described from the point of view of an onlooking human:

"Its bed is all the bric-a-brac of mountains
Stones and beaten rocks and scars and earth."

Later, the poet becomes the river and speaks to the onlooker, chiding her for attempting to describe something that she does not really comprehend. In this way, the poem 'expand(s its) meaning beyond its subject matter.' This writer lived by the East Drosophilia River before he came to Ex, and Moulcrumpet's description of the river's vigour is exactly accurate. Drosophilia breaks away from the River Fly at a wild spot, and keeps getting wilder the longer it flows. As Moulcrumpet writes:

"Its mouth eats unruly mobs
In a ruthless rush."

The earth in the Falling Hills is inhospitably hard and infertile. The river runs along a rough channel, carved out of this hard earth by persistance and blunt force. Cold Hills winds drive the temperature of the water down so low that people from other parts of the country who recklessly bathe in the East Drosophilia often die of shock or exposure. Hence:

'Your blood will not heat me'


'I am the eternal storehouse.
Without locks ...'

The last two lines are a reference to the bodies that disappear into the Drosophilia and are never seen again. We used to see that happen about five times a year in our part of the river. Someone once said that it was easier to find dead bodies in the river than it was to find fish, but that isn't true. We used to catch fish all the time. Ferrypeople who travel on the East Drosophilia say that it has some of the best fish in the country. Falling Hills Sliders and Cocky Walkers may be smaller than the fish in warmer places, but they still taste good. The river is shallow compared to the Fly, so the crustaceans that live on the bottom are easier to catch. There's a lot of food if you can dare to go in the water.

"I shrink but don't diminish..."

In fact that's not true. The Drosophilia turns into a collection of streams and ponds that fade away into the ground. However, Moulcrumpet's words do express the way the river stays with you even when it isn't there. It isn't big in size, but it has a determination that you don't see in rivers that run through friendlier countrysides."

Geographical note: The East Drosophilia branches off the Fly River and follows an irregular path upward through the Falling Hills, almost to the Forest of Ex. It can easily be identified on our map of Umbagollah even though it is not marked by name.