MEMORIAL DAY IN THE SHALE FIELDS
Families gather at the cemetery
of the first Memorial Day to honor
fallen soldiers. The carnival’s din
white noise in the background.
The Governor recollects the Preamble’s invocation,
our more perfect union,
America’s freedom, her might,
the first woman to have lain an offering
at the soldiers’ graves.
On the Commonwealth’s periphery,
a place my overeducated and underdoing
neighbors call Nowhere,
little Hannah shudders in Rachel’s arms.
Her nose bleeds and temples pound
from the fracking brine’s Marianas pressure
pushing inside her skull. An alien
sweet stink wafts in the house.
The sink is stained brown-yellow. It’s the
water. Mom’s mascara streaks down her cheeks.
For some reason she still tries.
A mom wipes mustard from her son’s
American flag shirt, annoyed. The Governor
quotes John F. Kennedy, asks that
we do for our country instead of what our
country can do for us. He rose to the rank of
Captain in the National Guard’s
28th Infantry Division.
The Horns owned a quarter horse mare.
She drank from the pond since she was a foal.
After they drilled next door, the pond changed
color. Its smell went off a bit. Even the elodia
died. Steve kept her away because he couldn’t
drain it. She was such a creature of habit,
she drank there anyway. She went blind, her
nostrils enflamed. Delirious, she stumbled
into the barbed wire fence, lost her balance
and got entangled and maimed, deep cuts across
her flanks and neck. She probably would’ve died
like the bull and leopard frogs and the
neighbor’s German Shepherd
did later. It’s the TDS, toluene, benzene, and
radium. Just as well Steve shot her after
he prayed that God wouldn’t make this happen
in vain. Two bullets. She kicked hard after the first
one, but the second one silenced her.
The blood never made it to the pond.
Sacrifice. We give our animals, ourselves, or
our possessions to offer fealty, to plead for better days,
or ask for forgiveness, mercy, and justice from
the Almighty or the Holy Mother. Salve Regina
we sing from the pews or Kyrie eleison.
Sometimes we burn an effigy. Other times,
just a simple offering. Or, like Jeptha, we
give our daughters’ blood to the lord.
Ellen is arrested on her own property,
spends her savings to stop the Mariner pipeline
from treating her heritage, her legacy, and
her progeny like a nest of insects in need of
containment but hoped-for extermination.
Her belly was the soil her daughter arose from,
an oak tree seeding a thousand acorns.
A Marine stands during the 21-gun salute. His
stomach turns, knowing his flag is soaked in
natural gas being burned in front of him.
He kneels on the scarred leg from Desert Storm.
Sometimes, the Lord colludes with Satan,
puts us through the trials of Job, says,
Hast thou considered my servants
Steven, Rachel, Hannah, and Ellen?
There are none like them on the earth,
perfect and upright, all who
feareth God, and escheweth evil?
When they resist, do his castigations
from the whirlwind come
in the form of a helicopter, private
defense contractors, and Yes Men?
The mustard stains the boy’s shirt. His mother is annoyed.
How can she wash it out?
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