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slow at the bottom

of the different rates of speed of currents from the surface of the water to the bottom                   of the different cross slants between the surface and the bottom                 of the different currents on the surface of the waters                 of the different currents on the bed of the rivers                 of the different depths of the rivers                 of the different shapes of the hills covered by the waters                  of the different shapes of the hills uncovered by the waters                 where the water is swift at the bottom and not above                     where the water is slow at the bottom and swift above                  where it is slow below and above and swift in the middle                   where the water in the rivers stretches itself out and where it contracts                  where it bends and where it straightens itself                   of the different slants in the descents of the water


from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks*




“Water is lubricant to other places; it catalyzes memory and aspiration. (Time has no direction near water)”–roni horn, artist

There was a media spray a while back about how researchers were finding concentrations of anti-depressants, birth control hormones, anti-seizure drugs, you name it, in the drinking water supply. Off and on, for a couple of weeks, I fretted about this and tried to figure out how this could happen. I realize it has to do with the human animal, with urine, with oceans and rivers, flushing toilets, and municipal water treatment plants. I talked to a few of my friends, they seemed to understand as little about how the U.S. water supply is recycled and processed as I do.

There’s a water treatment plant not far from where I live. I drive by sometimes on the way to someplace else. The plant is right there in plain view, and it’s even attractive from an engineering standpoint. It looks like a cross between a mini-golf course, a fish hatchery, and the town pool. There is a system of lagoons, big flat boxes full of dark water, some black netting, a set of nicely painted water tanks.

It was flooded during the hurricane this fall and we lost our water for a while. The folks at the water company were very outgoing and friendly, they left me many apologetic voicemails and later sent me a long letter about exactly what happened, explaining how the houses at the tops of hills were worse off than houses at the bottom. (So that happens sometimes.)

They really are my friends at the water plant. I am sure if I went over there, they would happily give me a tour. And explain how everything works. (as if I really want to know . . .)

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