Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Slow Burn

You tell me that these hills didn't used to be so green,
that irrigation and the lake behind McNary
have permanently changed the climate. More grass
between the sagebrush, fewer tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds
took over a town in California this week—
buried gardens, choked driveways, stacked house-high by the wind.
That won’t happen here since man-made moisture
tamed the storms of hot dust, a little.

You tell me that these hills used to be emptier.
You remember Rattlesnake Mountain’s crest
blond and naked against the sky. Not as it is now,
square-toothed with the silhouettes of giant houses. You remember
when its slopes were not girdled with asphalt,
draped with subdivisions.

You tell me that these hills were sown with terrible seeds
that burned underground like secrets. Names no-one spoke
though all knew them. Fat Man
ripened here like a misshapen fruit
in the hothouses of Hanford. He burst over a city
on the far side of the world—flash burn—
seared astonished shadows into masonry.

The seeds left here burn slow and poisonous.
They leach into soil and water. They take root,
winding themselves through the bones of these mountains.
They cannot be dug out,
cannot be caged in rotting concrete,
cannot be carried through collapsing tunnels,
cannot be tamed with water. From the slopes of these hills
hot dust blows again.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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