In Paradise we spend our mornings
straining toxins from the rivers,
our shirts in the currents to
catch a thousand years of plastic,
solvents, pesticides, debris.
Our bodies glisten with sweat as
we wring out the filth of industry to
incinerate with holy fire,
transmogrifying the corrupted past
into a radiance brighter than
our long dead sun.

We chose this work.
We clean these rivers singing
songs of praise and revelry.
We pitch camp around a fire,
share spiced wine and tales of
civilizations hidden under asphalt
we’ll break apart and melt down
to the oil men forged it from.
God joins us to break bread.
He shares wine and reminisces
the day he rose the Rockies,
painted purple hues of sunset to
inspire generations that followed.
He thanks us for the centuries
spent reclaiming strip-mine scars,
and planting grain for the
children of paradise.

He finishes his wine, wanders off
to visit other friends.
The flame dies and cicadas
climb the branches to sing.
We follow God into the forest to
plant rosewoods, oaks, conifers, corn,
bending our backs to
earth’s incline and bending
our wills to the wind.

© 2017, Phillip T. Stephens

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