Semuc Champey by Lorraine Caputo

Guatemala scott walmsley licensed

Semuc Champey
by Lorraine Caputo

The frothing river tumbles
over boulders       through

before it disappears
under the rock bridge
spanning this gorge

From the limestone cliffs
jungle cascades down
to the water’s edge

Streams wend through its growth
to fill         & fall pool
to deep turquoise pool
atop the bridge

The four-hundred-voice song of flocks
of zenzotles fills the
humid air

& when that river emerges
from the other tunnel       it is
a calmer whitewater

PHOTO: Semuc Champey, Lanquin, Guatemala. Photo by Scott Walmsley, used by permission.


NOTE: Semuc Champey is a natural attraction in the mountains of an isolated jungle in Guatemala. Semuc Champey sits above the Cahabón River, in an area where the harder rock on the surface has remained while the river has eroded the softer rock beneath. The pools are a brilliant turquoise color, with the river running beneath them and out the bottom of a large waterfall on the other end. The water in the pools is rain water, which is why it’s so clear.  Learn more here.

PHOTO: Turquoise pool, Semuc Champey (Lanquin, Guatemala). Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Semuc Champey is a natural wonder of crystalline pools atop and below a rock bridge, in the jungle of northern Guatemala. Back 20 years and more ago, it was quite difficult to get there — although it was already on the backpacker’s grapevine of places to go for the adventure and beauty. I just learned that Semuc Champey is now a national park. Hopefully that means there’s now more control to make sure people do not jump from the heights into the pools, as had happened when I visited there … the young woman had to be medevaced to her home country, Switzerland.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator, and travel writer. Her work appears in over 180 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa, as well as in 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017), and On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She also pens travel pieces, with stories appearing in the anthologies Drive: Women’s True Stories from the Open Road (Seal Press, 2002) and Far-Flung and Foreign (Lowestoft Chronicle Press, 2012), and travel articles and guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. She has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia, and journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. You may follow her Latin America Wander travels on Facebook and at latinamericawander.wordpresscom.

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