The Significance of Mud

by W. Kay Washko

Back when the river was a metallic yellow brown rimmed with sluggish foam and scum, there was plenty of Industry in this town. The banks of the river were not places where earth, water, rock and vegetation met in balance, as they did on the banks of the feeder streams crisscrossing the countryside. Rather these river banks were once lined with fine black silt washed down from the belching foundries situated along the bends and folds of the conveniently useful waterway. The stains of this soot did not wash out of our clothes, and playing by the river was never merely a case of getting "muddy." I never thought much about the significance of mud until it reappeared, and with the mud came a different kind of river - one wearing reflective ribbons of shifting colors, muted jade green in spring and summer, warm umber in autumn, choppy black and blue foil laced with small whitecaps in winter - a source of fresh wonder every time I look on it. Maybe I'm a heretic, but I am pleased that Industry has taken its oozing lesions elsewhere, returning the mud and this river from the dead.

6S

W. Kay Washko, author of A Change of Taste, writes because she must, and for occasional profit. Very occasional. You can find her poem "Mushrooms" this month in the spring issue of Philadelphia Stories. (She does not love a wall.)