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Friday, April 19, 2013

After Months of Drought

June 5, 1980

The water gurgles as if in an bathtub not quite sealed, rising, then sinking into a weary whirlpool as the river pushes ease from the falls and presses its stringed pattern upon the reflected trees and stones to either side, gulls hanging above everything in a gray Spring sky.
The water sloshed onto the island, telling its tale of two days worth of rain, dripping green leaves rich with the nitrogen seeping up from the roots. Lightning and thunder vanquished under the pink sunlight bleeding over the edges of Passaic.
These falls divide Garfield from Clifton, the poor from the rich, with Route 21 stalled in route north where bridges should have risen, the factories spewing gray poison into the air, paper mills still pumping out toilet paper for the masses.
The river runs at the feet of the factories like a human servant no longer used, the 1972 federal Clean Water Act closing up the pipes that used to pour forth with additional vapors. Now, only a trickle seeps out, drip by drip, leaving floating fish in small pools, washed away by the infrequent rain.
Each leaf drips on me, on this gray dock near the bridge where I pause to write, purple stains of mulberries now water colors at my feet, washed, but not so thoroughly as to erase them, purple in the cracks as if blood in wounds.
And down below, the mud thickens again, and grows watery, and takes on life as the catfish crawl, stirring up the roots of the reeds, but two days hardly appeases this thirst after months of drought, and I can hear the sucking sound as the earth itself drinks, and sighs, and drinks again, this river, all rivers, only one sip in an endless quenching over time.

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