I walk the swales

like my father taught me

winding down green tussocks

to your shimmering brown waves

lapping at silty earth

while trees hover like cliff divers

roots clinging to layers of red shale

stratified from time’s beginning.


Industrialization molded your banks

cutting a tow path connecting

your currents to the Delaware,

easing transport.


Today, centuries degraded,

apartment buildings scattered on

the remains of condemned textile mills,

families’ lives compartmentalized

between broken sewage facilities,

ages old systems overflowing,

waste mixed with runoff,

sludge pouring into your sandy depths,


making you,

my beloved water, the 12th

in a growing list of sullied waterways

washing our waste,


out to sea.