PUPPY IN THE RIVER
I believe I was ten years old and out riding on my bike on a warm summer’s day. As was my custom, I stopped at the bridge on Madison Street in Maywood overlooking the muddy, trash filled, and sluggish Des Plaines River. It was one of my favorite spots for daydreaming, but on that day my favorite place turned into a nightmare that still haunts me to this day.
As traffic went past behind me on four lanes of hot asphalt, I would stand and wonder about the first to view the river when it was clean and pure. I thought about the explorers who would trace the river to its beginnings when you could reach and cup your hands and take a drink of such refreshing waters that, by the time I stood there, had become dangerously polluted. It was only a foot deep at the middle, if that. What once had been a proud river had been destroyed by industry and polluters all along the wandering stretch that once had been so pristine.
I hated looking down at the shallow path of water that flowed 30 feet below me filled with junk and stink. But it was natural to peer over the concrete rail and down to the slop and slime and, on that day, as I peered over the edge there in the water was the body of a puppy floating upside down, its stomach bloated, white fur with streaks of green, its head was held by a rope tied to a brick.
The Puppy in the River
Subliminal thoughts of deep despair,
Beneath the Des Plaines surface there;
Shallow waters ran cold and dark,
Did silence the puppy’s plaintive bark.
A toss, a throw, from bridge above
to water flowing not far below;
A brick about the neck,
a final gift they did bestow.
And I, a child, beheld the horrid sight,
Before the dawn had turned to night,
Before the darkness settled in,
Leaving memories to haunt from deep within.
Curse me, bless me, dear god please defend me!
Take this memory from my sight,
remove the evil that I see.
A puppy in a river drowned—
And I, with it, am forever bound.
Copyright Gordon Kuhn, All rights reserved. 9/18/2013