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Rivers of Degrading Memory

Once upon a time
I was merely prescient
in the genes and blood
and air and water
and other ingestions
of our ancestors.

Among these were Elders
who may have stopped along the banks
of the Connecticut and Hudson Rivers
to drink from their sacred streaming source
and fish
and camp under maples and oaks nearby.

When these elders come within prescient me
to see these same rivers now,
perhaps from nearly the same spot,
now an eight-lane concrete highway
for transporting faster capital-invested competitions
lacking sufficient slow river-time for healthy redevelopment,
together we hear and smell,
but dare not taste
nor feel compelled to feel
cool once-clear bathing and drinking water
as when we were here
back in the day
and nights of great river love
and life,
happiness and vocationing prosperity
with plenty of clean and delicious water
and fresh fragrantly invigorating breezes of quiet joy
with pine needles needless
under sometimes naked running feet.

But we,
my generation
and that before
and before
back discontinuously through industrializing
and commodifying
and commercializing
and capitalizing degenerations,
we are now trying to remind ourselves
that what we currently must not drink
or even taste,
probably don’t want to touch
much less smell
and even less actually jump into it
and all the broken glass
and rusted car parts
embedded in its toxic death bed,
this is what we must accept as our new normal.

This unraveling of my Elders’ rivers
to the point of toxic exhaustion
is my expected price of admission
to all my New England happy birthdays
for continuing prosperity
and freedom and dignity for all,
except the rivers
and the air
and those they feed,
and the pine needle kindling
that remembers our Elders to this day,
back when we were more cooperatively invested
in asking and responding to
Why can’t we all just get along
together?

Rather than compete for how rationally
we could tear apart
memories of Elders
first seeing and hearing and smelling
promising prescient delights
of bountiful Hudson
and Connecticut Rivers
still healthy flowing
for and with and of and in their great grandkids.

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