Mary V. Marsh, “This river has no ego”

Image 1-3: This river has no ego

Mary V. Marsh
Oakland, California

This river has no ego
Accordion fold, letterpress printed, handset type, polymer plates, linocut on Arches Cover, hand cut paper, maple veneer cover, vertebrae. Slipcover, redwood veneer.
edition of 15
13 pages
7.5″ x 35″ x 6″
7.5″ x 6.75″ x 1.75″

This river has no ego

A meditation on our need to control nature, this collaborative book with original poetry and images by Tony Bellaver and Mary V. Marsh is a letterpress printed accordion-fold book.

The making of This river has no ego has been a process of years of conversations while camping, backpacking and fly fishing. The close observation required for fly fishing reveals the interconnectedness of the river, trees, fish and insects. We reflect on our relationship to nature, the power and endurance of rivers, and our insignificance. We try to understand it through the lens of science and words. The river doesn’t care if we are here or not. We strive to see and respect the river, without naming or cultural construct.

From our sketchbook drawings and poetry we developed the content and designed the format collaboratively. The accordion structure allows the book to unfold in an uneven rhythm like a river. The maple burl and redwood veneer relates to trees around our favorite rivers of California. The salmon vertebrae shows one part of the cycle of life of the river.

We stand apart as voyeurs, responding to what we see, and at the same time are active contributors. We put ourselves in the natural environment somewhere between viewer and participant. Journals and diaries of our experiences while backpacking in the wilderness provide the source for our projects. We want to share our awe and respect for wildness, and our gratitude of being able to be in these places for a time.

This river has no ego,

no care,

no consciousness of itself.


To the sea it flows,

over rocks of granite,

down cascades of mist.


Often turbid,

sometimes placid,

always moving.


Water flows deeper,

into rock and soil it cuts.


Competition in the wilderness,

process of evolution,

defined and invented.


Made of creeks,

of lakes,

to join into rivers.


Blue, green,

turbid, clear,

2 parts hydrogen,

1 part oxygen,

water is chemical.                          Earth’s solvent.