No, child, not rain.
It was not rain fallen down
to make the mind go flying quick,
away, above the fields, to turn
the bodies of the people into ramshackle yards,
depositories of poison dressed as clouds. Say,
It was not the fault of sky.
It was not the plan of the weather.
The poison caught fire in Belarus. &, child,
I cannot forget your eyes,
how they sit like two grey stones
or ringed steel in the hollows of your face.
& your brain ballooning out
from its eggshell skull.
& your young boy legs
swelled large as legs of horses. Still,
you cannot walk, even when the heart sings, "Walk!"
Even when the heart sings, "Get up
from there." Instead, the days push through you
like an oxygen tube
whose air blindly fumbles
through your body of arms
until deep in the bulrush
of your bones & curtains,
the heart shuts its red, fat eye,
& sends what's left of you out: gentle-like
& finished into world.
"Chernobyl" from Teeth by Arecelis Girmay. Copyright © 2007 by Arecelis Girmay. Published by Curbstone Press.