REVIEW by Willard Manus
a writer and activist who is based in Dallas, looks at the impact water
has on the earth and those who reside upon it. His book, THE RIVER ALWAYS
WINS, was inspired by the 1995 election of Ron Kirk as the first African-American
mayor of Dallas.
"I wrote a poem for an inaugural event about a river that made its
way to the sea," Marquis explains. "The thought stayed with
me and became the genesis for this book."
The book is small, just 114 pages long, but it is packed with wisdom,
poetry and spirituality, all of which serve to remind us "that water
is a metaphor for hope and progress."
Early on, Marquis observes that "The river is made of drops. Every
river in the world--the Ganges, the Nile, the Amazon, the Mississippi--is
made of drops. One drop is one drop is every drop." He adds: "Rivers,
ancient as days, may differ in the life along their banks, their depth,
or the frequency of their flooding, but one thing is true: if enough drops
flow together in the same direction long enough, the river always wins.
"There was a time in this country when black people were enslaved
because of the color of their skin, but the river won. There was a time
when women were not allowed to vote, but the river won. Through many centuries
gay people had to live in the shadows and hide their trues selves, but
the river is winning on that issue and will continue to.
"If enough drops flow together in the same direction long enough,
the river always wins."
Marquis amplifies on this theme over the course of THE RIVER ALWAYS WINS,
quoting stalwarts like Einstein, Gandhi and Martin Luther King to make
his case that "the river of freedom continues to flow to the Greater
Water." At the same time, he acknowledges that "changing hearts
is the hard part...Not even a hard head compares with the intransigence
of a hardened heart...Racism persists. Homophobia. Sexism. Agism. Violence."
Change is always possible, though, he insists, pointing to "a young
boxer named Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali and became
a drop of water pushing for peace and was widely derided and suffered
the slings and arrows of the same crowd that once cried, 'Barabbas!' yet
by the end of his life was cherished, the Champ to all. The old accusations
and blames had melted away. He died beloved by the world. Hardened hearts
had reached a softer place. Hope moves on. It has to."