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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Praying to the river gods

I pray to black-clouded gods today, watching them belch, their bulging bellies heavy over the river as I jog. A green oily slick reflects back at me from the water's surface through the trunks of trees and leaves and branches.
On the far side of the water, the mills start, and so does the litter, the bottles and cans, the styrofoam cups, collected on the other side as if the bank was designed for that purpose.
Hungry gray men huddle around trash can fires, even though the temperature has not yet dropped enough to justify the practice. They look like trolls, wrapped up in jackets and blankets and other people's discarded rags.
Traffic ignors them -- that constant parade of cars, buses and trucks along thin River Road. The drivers hardly see the river at all, except as an inconvenience, something they must steer around with too few bridges to accomodate their rush to work in the morning and their rush back home at night.
Few if any see the purple heads of fire weed bursting up from the reed cover in the spring, or the turtles that sun themselves on old long over the summer. Even the ducks and geese get little attention, except by the golf course people who complain about their droppings.
If an unexamined life is not worth living, then these lives here have no future, though I struggle each day to give them a little of my attention, hoping my limited effort will be enough.
I pray to the cloud gods and the mill gods and the gods that built the road upon which I run, seeking their favor in preserving at least a little of what I see, praying that the warm water that boils out of the power plant pipes do not kill all the fish, and that poison spilled from the chemical plants at night won't kill me.
I jog on, passed the used car lots, the Dunkin Donuts, the police station and diner, jog passed the last outposts of civilization on this side, to where the old lady leaves out food for the geese, where the foot of the old bridge takes my step and delivers me to the highway side so I might jog home again.
I pray to the bridge god, too, thanking him for the favor, and for the sight of the outstretched river beneath, where river reeds lift up their heads in praise, leaving me chilled, but not from cold.

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