When Water Was Trash

Bottled water

Helene Kouzoujian Rimer read her compelling and arresting poem, “When Water Was Trash,” at the Glen Arbor Arts Center’s “Words for Water” poetry throw-down on July 31. The outdoor event was a collaboration between the Arts Center and FLOW. Poets and performers were invited to read works that sought to answer the question: “Who owns the water? People? Communities? Corporations? Nobody?” Click here to watch a livestream recording of the poetry throw-down.

FLOW’s “Art Meets Water” initiative seeks to develop a deep sense of stewardship for our Great Lakes by celebrating the creativity and passion sparked by these magnificent freshwater resources. “Art Meets Water” is an ongoing series of collaborations with committed artists, inspired by the ability of art to amplify our critical connection to water. The Great Lakes Belong to All of Us. “All of Us” speaks to the many kinds of beautiful diversity in our Great Lakes community.

 

When Water was Trash

Last month I learned that water was trash.

It didn’t want to be.

A bottle of unopened water.

Its life-giving elixir

Trapped

In a plastic cocoon

Never to emerge, never to unleash its magic:

To revive a parched mouth.

To make the plants in Mary Lee’s garden grow.

To shake the poplar leaves in a rainstorm frenzy.

Instead they caught it. Captured it. Capped it. Strangled it.

Owned it for free and sold it for gold. Water became cash.

And, then someone accidently dropped it in the Platte River.

For me to pick up, on a river clean-up day

in a plastic black bag with garbage.

Why didn’t I open it and pour it in the river? Because it was trash.

Now, doomed to live its million-year journey in the trash mountain, in Glen’s Landfill with millions of unopened bottles of water, from soccer games, yoga workouts, picnics, meetings; mountains of them, waiting to come, at Costco, Walmart, Meijer, gas stations, vending machines, every grocery store.

Forever.

When I am old, I will tell of the day when water was sold for gold, and when water was trash.

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