story of the little river

I was sitting by the playful Panke River
swift and shallow, cold and murky,
when a girl climbed from it’s stony bed
Her skin was bright like winter’s snow
Her hair was green like watercress
Her eyes were blue, like the endless sky
She climbed up onto to the red brick wall
And sat beside me, wet and still
When she spoke her voice was like
The little torrent, bubbling, crackling, slight

I am the spirit of Panke, little daughter of the Spree.
Long ago I danced through forests cool and dark.
And beasts of every size and shape drank from my sparkling depths
The birds build nests along my banks,
while fish leapt through my liquid electricity
The deer came, and aurochs too beneath the beech and willow

When men they came, they worshiped me
They came from the mountains and the sea
To wash themselves in my sweet spring so I might heal them
And to little me they left offerings of gold and silver

The city grew along my banks, and farms where forest was.
Through winters long and dark, I froze and once ran red with blood
The men with cranes and shovels came.
Culverts, bridges, factories, pain
Then they turned me into a drain
My skin was blackened with the soot
My water brown with oil
My spring dried up
And my tears like acid burned.

but here I am, my skin is bright
my hair is green
I am alive
And birds and deer return