Monday, January 24, 2005

Water Ways

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,

if ever,

cheaper in the long run.

And what is cheaper in the long run,

is cheaper.

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.


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