Catherine Gonick

Ode to a Woman in Mining; 18: Catherine Gonick

Ode to a Woman in Mining

She has the same problems as anyone else.

Claim jumpers walk the land to steal

her mineral permits. Her rights are still

recorded on paper and posted

on boundary stakes in the ground

that aren’t safe from snakes with hands.

Except for neon lights and more crime

not much has changed since the Gold Rush.

A stake in the ground must be watched.


A woman in mining is hard to credit

though she open-carries her Glock and

comes to the bad guys’ deal table

with a very large bodyguard. What’s changed

is the land, which now is a drop-off,

a mini-Grand Canyon, since life-giving water

was forced to change course for the Hoover

dam. Soon no more water will flow

in the Colorado, though the river’s still sacred.


The claim jumpers claim, You don’t know

our power. Meaning—sign over your permits

or else. They’re old-time villains whose time’s

almost up, who don’t yet know their guns

will be useless, that they can’t butter bullets

and eat ‘em. They don’t even know

she’s from the future, landed outside

Vegas in a UFO, with big plans

to clean up the water her mine uses,

if any is left, and people don’t starve first.




In science, the number for the molecular mass of water is 18.01 gram mole, but call it 18.


Chai, the Hebrew word for life, is spelled with the letters chet and yud, alphabet numbers


8 and 10, adding up to 18.


In gematria, the numerical value of Hebrew words adds new, mystical meaning to sacred texts.


Water, the source of all life, and chai, both 18.


Chai makes shekels in the amount of 18 or its multiples, 36, 54, 72, appropriate for gifts.


Water spreads wherever it can, carries away stale-bread sins, dissolves fast stains from souls.


When we pray from the deserts of our hearts, God promises to pour water on thirsty land.


Water cycles daily from heaven to earth to heaven, a ferris wheel of joy.


An angel shows the way to the river of the water of life, bright as crystal.


The water of life is without price.


Water and chai both 18.

Catherine Gonick’s poetry has appeared in journals including Notre-Dame Review, The Forge, New Verse News, and Sukoon, and in anthologies including in plein air, Grabbed, and Rumors, Secrets & Lies: Poems about Pregnancy, Abortion & Choice . She is part of a company that fights global warming through climate repair and restoration projects around the world.