ContentsPutah and Cache: Monticello Dam

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The Glory Hole
Monticello Dam, Floods of 1998

Rachel Dilworth

To keep floodwaters from overflowing the dam when the water level becomes too high,
the Glory Hole—a massive open cylinder in the reservoir, just before the dam wall itself—swallows
the overflow, taking it underneath the dam and ejecting it on the other side.

As though from a pitcher to a glass, water slips
over the rim and down the hole in a smooth fall,
cavesalmost softlyin. The Glory Hole will never be full.

Go out in a blaze, I guess. God, looks like a thrill.

The floods have browned the liquid in the reservoir
and the influx towards the hole moves thickly, shifted by pulls
so broad and deep they're indistinguishable.

Like she went down a bathtub drain. Right down.

You can see just inside from the road, can tell
the water wall is thinner than it first seemed,
that speed quickly picks up once clear of the edge.

Bet inside she thought, Shitforgot rappelling gear.

A sharp reflection off the backside of the dam
plates the rim of the hole with sun, draws an elliptical
outline round the thing, crowns it with clouds.

At least, on the way down she saw things no one will.

On the other side, the dam is the big screen at a drive-in
projecting static. You can hear the spray crackle
at its base. Everything that side is black and white.

You see that chute there, that's where she came out.

Water vomits from the one unstuffed plug
that relieves the dam, as though from a firehose,
as though to snuff the drastic canyon.

Heard she hung there twenty minutes before she did it. Think maybe she just slipped?

It doesn't seem there is enough to see.
We want more for the indignity of death,
for having to imagine her body as it shot out

and how cold the fall felt, and for having to palate the joke
that in her glorious burst skyward as freed water hit water
and splayed up, up, so beautifully up,

she was already dead, dead since the base of the sinkhole
or dead since the cement-walled middle; that inside, water is dark;
that there's just no way to stage it right.

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