Cleansing Stream

We made our way
Down to the bay
In sunlit, wooded valley
Flowed through by sparkling water

When we reached the shore
We heard the roar
Cascading onto stony beach
At the end of the water’s reach

Something pungent in the air
Lodged in the back of our throats
And up our nostrils
Something not so clean
In this idyllic scene

We saw a notice on a wall
Bearing words that said it all:
HEALTH WARNING
Please don’t go near the waterfall
The water is polluted

We climbed our way
Out from the bay
Onto a nearby cliff-top
Reflecting as we did so
On what had come to pass

Over the course of its shifting life
Winding from birth to culmination
The stream had carried its cleansing flow
Through toxic lands
Intensively exploited
Until discharging its accumulated burden
Into the open sea
To await return in cleansing rain
To start all over again

The cleansing stream
Refreshing life along its path
Becomes itself in need of cleansing
When that life corrupts its flow
With unsustainable abandon

It has to go
From rushing past
Into quiet, rushy places
Where its overload
Can settle out,
Then come to life again

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