How To Love A Polluted River
May we no longer agree
to walk on by, eyes forward,
breath left behind us
like the heavy bluster of exhaust,
rushing, a sanctuary of
Most don’t even notice
you spend every day flowing through
our subliminal aversion.
I don’t know anyone that says they consented
to being abandoned
with nothing but rusty comfort.
The smoke stack in ruins still
shapes the village horizon,
crumbling over your banks.
We all push on, ravaged.
I walk the old railroad bed, searching
for some wild plan.
I track boggy edges and crayfish skeletons.
I look for water quality indicators,
signs, and good omens.
I find shards of colonial pots,
and imagine I hear the beat of frantic footsteps
fleeing from the conquest.
my feet sink in like a willow twig,
cut and planted in muck,
They can grow into a huge tree like that.
to the polyrhythmic tempo splashing over water-hewn rocks
as blood pulses past the edges of my own arteries,
both washing loose the mineral dust of eons.
I hang my head over,
humbled in exile
I look in to the current,
like a coyote searching side to side
for shelter in the subdivision.
I wonder, aren’t we all
gracious things standing full
of creation’s riotous beauty?
The prayers of our ancestors still vibrating against us,
an invisible stronghold
like gravity presses us down
beneath the sun, our bones
like thin fire racing under skin.
My tears wallow down,
I inhale and exhale,
my mind dives in headlong
as if it were possible to step in
up to my mouth and open up wide, gulping
down past a thousand brave bellies
that drank here
before water treatment systems and chlorine
once dipped in,
open toward the flow and filling,
an ordinary act of radical moisture,
I wish someone had taught me how to talk to water
from some place deep inside.
Beside you I feel so small but
still I speak,
my voice an offering,
even if you’re dark and surly, undrinkable,
I must say that “I have loved you.”
*“thin fire racing under skin’ is a line from Sappho, translated by Anne Carson
Lisa Fazio is an herbalist, astrologer, and writer living in the Adirondack foothills of New York State. She has published poems and essays in Burning House Press, The We’Moon journal, The Dark Mountain Project, Plant Healer Magazine, and Permaculture Women Magazine. More about her and her work can be found at https://therootcircle.com