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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Passaic River Dock, June 2, 1980

June 2, 1980

The rain trickles down through the wide brimmed hats of leaves, rolling off their shimmering leaves in steady drips, drops of water showing on the brown backs of ducks that hovering in this eddy for protection, each posing as if for a water color, leaves bobbing in their wake.
Tiny dots mar the surface of the calm water, giving it scars it would otherwise lack, my reflection and the reflection of those who look down into it changed into distorted versions, each of us looking like prize fighters after too many bouts in the ring.
The landscape is marred, too, by the bending reeds and weeds, that struggle to keep straight in the rain, each moving to conflicted urges, the rain from above, the catfish from below, ready to topple as the catfish dig out the soil beneath in search of food.
The leaves and trees protect the grey dock where I sit, the rain working its way through the cluster of leaves so that most of the planks where I sit remain dry, though the seasons have reached it in the past, sun and storm beating on its blistered face until the wood turned grey.
It is an old face, this dock, one that has seen many seasons here, and many people like me who've come to the river side to stare, old enough and sagging enough to have stood here for when my grandfather used this river to swim. The purple mark of mulberries mars its face, too, giving it a blotched expression that rain cannot wash away, purple working deep down into the cracks, berries dropping down even now, as birds pick at the fruit above.
The dock will not survive long. The state has plans to renovate the Outwater Lane bridge, figuring to knock down the small factory on the other side of the road, and landscape this side -- which means removing this testimony to the past as well. The factory is owned by the mayor of Totowa, a small manufacturing plant that made him his retirement. I do not know who owns this dock, though many people use it, as evidenced by the clear path down to it from River Road.
Hearts and initials have been carved into many of the planks. Names spray painted onto the concrete base that holds this up. I resist the urge to write my name here, too, partly because I know it will not last long, partly because I think no one will notice, and that the only true immortality lies in the flow of the river, the dripping leaves feeding the flow from here into the ocean.
If I could put my name on that, I would. Instead, I sit here, hovering over a wet piece of paper, struggling to write down what I see, knowing that in a hundred years, the dock, the paper and I will be forgotten.

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