Great Lakes Julie

Musician Peter Mayer. Submitted photo

I recently attended a concert by Minnesota musician Peter Mayer and another musician. In case you don’t know, Mayer is known for his environmentally themed songs about interconnectedness and the human journey. He has produced 11 albums over 20 years and has received many artist fellowships.

Mayer wrote a song that’s a favorite of mine called “Ocean Mary.” It’s about a woman who “becomes” the ocean from touching a stream near her home. While Mayer didn’t play that song during his recent concert, I found myself thinking about it and wishing someone would write lyrics for a similar song about the Great Lakes.

Gradually, I had the audacity to realize that maybe I could help bring such a song into being if I tweaked the “Ocean Mary” lyrics a little. So, I did! Here’s the result, used with Mayer’s gracious permission. We thought you might enjoy it as a Sea Grant offering for U.S. National Poetry Month.

Great Lakes Julie

There’s a road in a river town
And on that road is Julie’s home
By her house is a deep ravine
Running there is a magic stream
Laughing over sand and rocks
It runs the length of Julie’s block
Another mile to the riverside
And a hundred more to the Great Lakes wide

Now, down in that ravine one day
By the water, Julie lay
Put her hand in the shallow stream
And Julie had a magic dream
She imagined that, inside her, stirred
All the waters of the Earth
Every puddle, every wave
And every one of the five Great Lakes

She could feel the fishes roam
In her fingers and her toes
And in her chest, the Keweenaw Current flows

Now, ever since her dream that day
People say that Julie’s changed
But they sympathize when they think
It must be strange to be the Great Lakes
She senses when the salmon swim
And waterspouts lick her skin
Canada tickles her left arm
And the moon above tugs her heart
Her front is Duluth, her back Oswego
She recollects the glaciers’ decline
Rip currents run up her spine
And lightning tingles when it strikes

She can feel the fishes roam
In her fingers, in her toes
And in her chest, the Keweenaw Current flows

And all this happened, so it seems
Because of Julie’s magic stream
But some will say that ponds and wells
And even rain can cast a spell
And every water drop you ask
Tells a tale of Great Lakes vast
So be careful when you take a drink
There’s magic in the kitchen sink!