chemical spill

i’m not going to personify the muddy little thing
dress it in the human bondage of nazi
gas or guillotines or worse

i’m not going to invoke chernobyl
or any other place we have
convinced the soil to reject

i’m not going to observe how this
could have been foreseen
how in fifty years we will be dead
and possibly our children too

as will this fish, its gills burned
off by caustic soda, its arc
collapsed as guts fold in on one
another and dissolve

as we too will fold in, one day, like petals
though i need not bother you with details
we have shared before:

we walked slowly forward
hands firm in the bellowing silence
you whispered ‘the smell is weaker than i imagined’
i dropped my pen into my pocket

now, hours later, i pull it out to find
it no longer smells of pocket, or fish, or you.

from the 2006 issue of Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine.


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