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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Not quite yet

Nov. 10, 1980

The dry reeds slump after last night’s heavy rain, looking a little like characters in a Hopper painting, brows dripping sweat from their heavy labor.
Cool sunlight streams over the tip of the factory near Outwater Lane, a deceptive brightness to suggest the storms did not happen when everything else still drips.
Water flows down each bank in well-cut gullies, stirring up the mud near the shore and filling the river basin so that it rises slightly – bring it up along the bridge’s legs to cover one or two inches of the brown the drought exposed over the long, dry summer.
We need many more storms to get back to where it belongs, and think of it as some kind of church fundraiser with a minister filling in a flow chart to suggest how far along we’ve come.
The sun penetrates the mostly bare branches to cast odd shadows over the still bare ground, interrupted only where the occasional pine tree stands. A Newark-bound jet moans across the sky, low enough to use the river as a guide. Truck traffic thunders over the Wall Street Bridge, sending vibrations down the crumbling concrete to the river where the water vibrates as well, stirring out the bar swallows that swirl in the air like tiny jet airplanes, bound for nowhere, needing no river to navigate their path.
These birds rise out of the eves of this bridge only to vanish upstream into the eves of the Monroe Street Bridge, or the rail road spur that is its twin.
The river almost looks like a river again here, unlike down stream where Passaic’s industry loomed over it with dirty brick walls, breaking only where the still-to-be-completed Route 21 runs up from a similar industrial area in Newark.
We have what we call a park here, a stretch of open space behind the church and school where kids play and people walk their dogs, bordered by a stand of trees some call woods, in which the homeless sometimes camp.
An oil slick from the river marks high water when the river is flush, creeping even higher with the almost yearly floods so as to stain the asphalt and grass above. In low water like this, we can see where the water has eroded the soil, stones and dirt and roots exposed until the edge of asphalt, as if waiting for some cataclysm to break it away.
A chill air swirls around me, making me think of winter which technically is only a month away, and Christmas, and the possibility of snow we have not yet seen, and the dark days when I will ache again for the taste of Summer’s salvation.

But not yet – not quite yet.

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