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Rio Chama | Connie Smith Siegel

A photo of small river winding its way through a desert, with mountains in the distance. There is a very vibrant royal blue and orange-peach sky. There is a poem by Connie Smith Siegel titled "Rio Chama" that reads: "Half moon rising out of purple twilight/Shining on the rocks and distant cliffs/Blue black swallows rosy glow and stars appear/I hear the sound of water on the banks of Rio Chama/On a clear August night//I was enthralled with Rio Chama/Along the rutted road I say the grey-green water/Edged by bright green willows/Part the orange cliffs above and stretching far beyond/Keeping their distance, yet present in their light//Are you the river place I always search for/The one that nurtures me and strengthens both?/If only the road were shorter, smoother/Or less impassable with rain/A little more comfortable, predictable/Then I would take you to my heart/Be loyal all year round.//Yet now I sleep beside you river/Your sound comes in--the distance gone/the echo of your voice is in me river/a sound of searching, wanting to go home./A place, a person; what in this whole earth/can hold me, take my heart, wake my soul/or do I keep on traveling like the river/arriving home, but always moving on."

If a line or phrase resonates with you,

we invite you to use it as a starting point to create your own poem.

We welcome you to share your poem with the IPM community here.


Connie Smith Siegel was a landscape painter, educator, and leader in the field of art and healing. She received her MFA from University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1962, and first taught Art and Art History at Amarillo College in Texas. She went on to become a tenured Associate Professor and the first woman Chair of the Art Department at University of Colorado, Denver. Connie moved to California in 1975, and taught at the California Institute of Integral Studies and JFK University. She gave private workshops and classes at her home and other venues for 35 years, and was a visiting artist/teacher at Sonoma State, UC Santa Cruz, and Esalen Institute.

Connie was a Peace and environmental activist, a founding member of Artists for Social Responsibility. Her landscape banners, with quotes from Helen Caldecott and Chief Seattle, were used in anti-nuclear protests in the ’80’s. Connie was a life-long learner in Consciousness and Intuitive Studies, Expressive Arts, Dance, and Poetry. She worked with the pioneers in movement and expressive therapy – Anna Halprin, Gabrielle Roth, Natalie Rogers, John Fox, and others. Connie practiced Buddhist meditation with Tibetan, Zen and Insight teachers for 25 years. She was a longtime student of Nonviolent Communication. She was a member of the ‘Artist Potluck Group’ – local artists who met to share and critique their art. She championed the work of others, and the Potluck group exhibited together as a result of her tireless efforts. Connie created and celebrated community, with her enthusiasm for the arts and her welcoming, inclusive way of being. Her receptions often incorporated musicians improvising to the art and poets reading.

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