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Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





The full moon rises inside a blue glass bottle
on the windowsill; inert lozenge, white bubble,

heme-less globin.  Years ago,

in college biology lab, we examined a lung
the teacher said had been a miner's: shiny,
pale gray sponge stippled with blue-black nodules

from years of breathing coal dust.
It could have been any of us in those days
when steel mills along Pittsburgh's rivers

exhaled their acrid smoke.  Until the sixties,
when a killing fog like the fogs of Dickens' London
descended on the city of Donora, suffocating hundreds,

alerting city fathers it was time for change.
"Mid-century," as historians say now,
in love with dates, the proper placement

of disastrous events like biological specimens
preserved in jars; our penchant for detachment,
a saving grace, a blessing that this happened

somewhere else and long ago.  Now, a pot
of water on the stove begins to boil.  I add a long,
dried bundle of spaghetti.  The moon

has reached the top of the bottle, sits,
like a small, harmless wafer thousands of miles
from here.  Later, after we've eaten, its cold light

will glisten from the frozen crust of snow
that's sealed over the garden, catching on the sharp
edge of every blue-lipped crystal.

© by Jackie Bartley


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