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Claudette Cohen

How the Water Rolls
at a County Water Quality Meeting

It's really quite simple, actually, says the scientist
pointing at a graph which shows, of course, how rainwater run-off concentrates particulates (that may contain E. coli) and nutrients (which, as you know, are nitrogen and phosphorus) into the creeks, especially, as you can see, [he taps the screen] at low tide in summer and how this leads, as is plainly evident [he taps the screen] to algal blooms,
veritable chlorophyll
explosions
which deoxygenate the water, thereby, obviously, making it uninhabitable for most forms of marine
life.

In slide show darkness, the Town Planner chirps pork from his teeth and imagines a mall on the acres of woods owned by the geezer who owned most of the town for so long and now was dead, God rest his soul.

And the Town Manager swallows the last of his biscuit, wishing he had just a little of that awful good peanut butter they sell at the golf course shop, made from the same peanuts, no lie, that are sold at the ball games.

And the Mayor slurps and jolts from dreaming of the
five-point, trophy-size, drinking at a creek that looks
like the one in the slide show, but he missed and it bolted, tail flashing white, to be shot by someone else who probably didn't vote for him, he thought, as he fingered the bubble gum in his pocket sure that giving that out would make him
unforgettable.

Three fields and a patch of woods away in several long tin cans, five thousand pigs shit. Nearby, in a silent creek,
fish, bellies moonlit, drift and clump.


Claudette Cohen spent the winters of her early childhood in the Catskills and Hudson River Valley of New York.  She spent almost every summer of her life in the Cape Fear region of North Carolina.  She has earned degrees from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, the University of Wyoming, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  Her poems have been published in The Southern Anthology, Fireweed, Earth's Daughters, Mainstreet Rag, Owen Wister Review, Aurora, and Bay Leaves. She is currently in the PhD program in Creative Writing at the University of Utah.

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