Someone, you finally realize, has suffered
your exact misfortune before you.
This one the steady vanishing
of your birthplace before your eyes.
As common and disordered
as a parent burying a child.
You stare down at the slate-dark hole again—
this time seeing the blue swirls of precursors
grieving at a murky bottom.
One shouldn’t outlive one’s birthright:
instead, after you, the feed store boarded,
shorn subdivisions advancing,
your grandchildren pulling their own
trailers to launch at sunrise. Here
Centralia’s colliery still smolders like
fields of burning cane. The trees
stand dead but don’t fall.
Veins in the Gulf will swell, too,
carrying grayed-out swirls—ghosts—
to greed’s unbroken refrain.
from her book The Dirty Side of the Storm
W.W. Norton & Co., 2007
Used with permission of the poet.