The Great Undoing
from the banks of the ohio
There should be a great Un-doing of it all
Not because progress is bad
But because our progress has been bad.
No sooner had we settled the banks of the Ohio
here in Louisville
had we turned our streams and river into toilets and sewers.
Our progress, in building this city of many neighbors and communities,
was paid for at the cost of our water and wildlife
and ultimately us.
This was wrong.
We didn't err in desiring to have a city,
just in our design.
It was cheaper, remains cheaper, to use Beargrass Creek as a sewer.
However, what is cheaper in the short run is rarely,
cheaper in the long run.
And what is cheaper in the long run,
This is because, unless you're counting on an imminent destruction of the world,
there is no short run.
This is our world and will remain so forever.
At least, one would hope.
I hesitate to bring this up . . .
at the confluence of the beargrass and the ohio
At the confluence of the Beargrass and the Ohio
where a wild winter wind
blows the leaves back up the oak tree,
Where the mallard and his mate huddle
beneath a fallen sycamore,
Where eddies swirl and dark waves
kiss the shore goodbye,
There are no addresses.
No street numbers to be marked on a map
and kept in a file cabinet at city hall
with a corresponding Owner’s name
Because there are no Owners.
There are no claimants on the water
as it rolls from creek to river to ocean
and back again.
And it surprised me today
as I thought about it,
That no one had ever bought the Ohio outright.