If all you counted were tires on the cars left in driveways and stranded beside the roads.
Melted dashboards and tail lights, oil pans, window glass, seat belt clasps.
The propane tanks in everyone's yards, though we didn't hear them explode.
R-13 insulation. Paint, inside and out. The liquor store's plastic letters in puddled
colors below their charred sign. Each man-made sole of every shoe in all those closets.
The laundromat's washers' round metal doors.
But then Arco, Safeway, Walgreens, the library—everything they contained.
How many miles of electrical wire and PVC pipe swirling into the once-blue sky:
how many linoleum acres? Not to mention the valley oaks, the ponderosas, all the wild
hearts and all the tame, their bark and leaves and hooves and hair and bones, their final
cries, and our neighbors: so many particular, precious, irreplaceable lives that despite
ourselves we're inhaling.
Copyright © 2018 Molly Fisk. This poem originally appeared in Rattle. Used with permission of the author.
Molly Fisk received a BA in Folklore & Mythology from Radcliffe College/ Harvard University and an MBA from the Simmons College Graduate School of Management. She is the author of four poetry collections, most recently The More Difficult Beauty (Hip Pocket Press, 2010). In 2019, Fisk was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. She currently serves as the poet laureate of Nevada County, California.
Date Published: 2018-11-25
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/particulate-matter