Friday, 14 of June of 2024

Category » Lucille Lang Day

Lucille Lang Day – Flows into the Gulf


Melted snow from the crests of the Rockies rushes
past pinyon pines limber pines lodgepole pines
corkbark firs ponderosas gathering silt as it reaches
bur oaks cottonwoods staghorn sumacs silver maples
passes prairie cord grass winds through cattails duckweed
skunk cabbage finally to mingle in the Mississippi
with water draining from thirty-one states where hunter-gatherers
lived with bison herds for ten thousand years

Now the river carries oven cleaner
human feces and caffeine
medical residue from hospitals and laboratories
scouring powder and soap from millions of houses
antibiotics from all the cattle ranches in the Midwest
solvents from farm-machinery plants
pesticides from corn and soybean fields
ingredients used to make plastic
enough estrogen from birth control pills to bend the genders of fish
thousands of tons of herbicides
fertilizers that cause algae to form massive green carpets in the gulf
which leads to an explosion of bacteria that decompose algae and kill
everything in an area the size of Massachusetts each year

All this even before 206 million gallons of oil
from the Deepwater Horizon blowout
before hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil dispersant
containing chemicals that destroy red blood cells and cause cancer
It all enters the shimmering, translucent bodies
of arrow worms and dinoflagellates consumed by oysters
the algae scooped up and eaten by shrimp
the crabs that crush mollusks and shrimp with their chelipeds
the sea bass whose stout jaws clamp down on any smaller creature
Of course, it’s in our blood and hair and fingernails
It floats in our hearts and permeates our brains as surely
as hope or anger It’s in your body and mine—
these molecules that cling like lovers to our bones

First published in Ambush Review #3, 2012

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