Diaspora

 

A poem by Carla M. Cherry

water-1568259

The Chippewa called it Pewonigowink.
Stand by its banks at night with a flashlight.
Look for the white glow in the eyes of the walleye. Tapetum lucidum.

The son of the city manager caught a nine pounder once.
They’ve held a Walleye Festival in Flushing every year, ever since.
I hear they’re “good for the table”.

The walleye still live in the Flint River with all the chlorides.
Only 17 months of that water at the tap, and Kaylie screamed in the shower at the clump of hair in her hands.
His face was on the cover of Time; little Sincere still cries while his mother bathes him with bottled water. Ten dead from Legionnaire’s.

The ignorant can claim innocence but officials had hundreds of years of history. From the writing of Dioscorides: “Lead makes the mind give way” to the “dangles” from lead type in the hands/feet of print shop workers in Ben Franklin’s day.

A year before the switch back to Detroit’s water:
Flint’s GM plant stopped using city water to save car parts from corrosion.
Bottled water coolers in the state office building, but the tap water “was safe to drink”.
No anti-corrosive chemicals to save the pipes from the Flint River.

Water warriors march with brown water in bottles. No politicians put in jail.
They get to allocate $80 million in federal aid, and it ain’t enough to replace all the pipes.

Will the walleye forever swim up the Flint River to spawn?
How many men in Flint will become impotent?

Chelation therapy flushes lead through urine. Does not undo damage to axons, synapses, IQ.
Will the people of Flint get enough Vitamin C/calcium/iron/garlic/cilantro/oregano?
Will Snyder give them 64 ounces of pure water per day to drink?
The Game/Cher/Diddy/Donny Wahlberg can buy only so much bottled water.

No cure.
No end–20,000 killed and 2.5 million Nigerians displaced.
86 murdered in Dalori. Bullets and firebombs.

Bodies aflame:
Fire peels the epidermis, the dermis shrinks/splits leaking body fat.
Muscles dry out, contract, and the limbs sometimes move into
poses of agony: arched necks/backs.

Turns out body fat is good fuel.
Burned bodies fuel fear, and
Boko Haram/Flint officials understand
the cleansing properties of fire and water


Carla M. Cherry is an English teacher and poet from New York City who has been published in Anderbo, Soar, Obscura, Dissident Voice, and in an upcoming issue of Eunoia Review. She has also published a book of poetry, Gnat Feathers and Butterfly Wings. She hopes to earn an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.

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