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Unbelonging by Nicki Griffin

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Pandora's Well

Griffin, Nicki

‘Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less’: Republican slogan 
unveiled by Newt Gingrich, May 2008.

When my brother brought news of my youngest son
home I took the winding path to the beach 
where the moon was up like the night 
we settled to watch the first turtle 
lumber ashore and heave its heavy 
water-meant limbs across pure sand. 

I thought of the first time I took him out 
shrimping: still as an egret, perched 
on the prow, afraid I would send him home
if he spoke, his nine-year-old eyes
taking everything in.

I stayed at the shore till the bright dawn of
birdsong, consoled by belief this would
never change: the bottlenose dolphins
skimming the swell; the shush of the waves
as they eased in to land but

that was before I knew that the wound
they’d drilled in the skull of the earth was
open and spurting blood as black
as the minds of the men whose mantra 
‘drill here, drill now’ took the life of my son.

Today we have been to a meeting with oil men
who think they can offer us words 
and fine promises to make it all right
but back in the swamp the slick has enveloped
the base of the grasses and poisoned the larvae
of fin fish and shrimp and crab and oyster.

At dusk I return to stand on black sand 
where a scorch-marked turtle turns 
dead in the surf from oil men’s attempts 
to burn off the spill, while in the distance flaring
smoke chimneys into dark tainted clouds.

Back in the city the men in pressed shirts 
fret about lawsuits and shareholder profits
while here in the Gulf the hotels are closing
and fishermen droop in charity food lines as
locals watch livelihoods drowning in oil.

Copyright © Nicki Griffin 2013

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