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Monday, December 13, 2010


by Laura Rodley

Just Before the Oil Leak Was Capped
With Ongoing Thanks for the Cap Still Working 

Now you are a lightning bug bleating
your lantern against the pitch black core
of the sky, through to the core of the earth

where oil lies almost frozen, sluggish to the touch,
no fire before the flame, no fire before the gusher
no fire before the deep freeze staring dinosaurs

down in the dust, dinosaurs stuck in their tracks,
fossils dissolved in the black gold spewing now,
worthless like confederate money after the Civil War,

trunks full once hidden in attics used to stuff chinks
in the wall to stop cold winds from blowing in,
dowries turned to rubble, brides turned into spinsters,

spinsters hoeing fields meant for cotton turned to wheat,
fields lying fallow, the fields buried under the curtains
of rocks, the shower curtains of methane gases parting,

seeping through, the leaks bubbling to the top, the flame
ignited, the erupting, the gusher, there’s no stopping it, no Eureka,
just God Almighty and a new language called hopelessness

churned into a new currency called we will, we will pray
the sludge off the surface of the ocean, the dinosaur so large,
still breathing, walking on this earth with liquid feet

and prehensile tail, her waves she sends to each shore,
each crevasse left unlicked now licked, we will take our hands,
hew them together, turn them into hoes that roll away

the weedy beds of tar, the seaweed fronds of oil, the leaks,
the drafts coming through the open window of the ocean
the window that only God can shut, the window

that lays open asking for mercy as boats skim across her surface
as kayakers tremble beside dolphins, as the huge loggerhead turtles
tumble back into the sea tired from freshly laying their eggs,

only two tries they take to lay their eggs on sand they’ve forgotten
how to walk on, can only drag their feet on land they were not meant
to traverse, their humps invisible in the darkness of the night,

their eyes shining back unexpectedly in flashlights when my son
took a walk in Florida, their pictures snapped on his cellphone,
one turtle turning its head and huge dark eyes back to look at Erika,

my son’s girlfriend with the long tumbling dark hair, seaweed curls
down her back; the turtle swims now in the Atlantic remembering
the girl on the beach, the turtle swims now with the imprint

of my son’s hands on her mossy back, my answering the cell-phone,
Mom, guess what, I just saw a turtle laying her eggs, I can touch her,
and I say, touch her for me, and back into the dark water beaded

with foam, her face crusted with barnacles, the turtle lumbers to speak inside
the belly of the sea, ask the oil to stop bubbling so the rest
of the world can have a drink and the girl on the beach

and the boy who touched her back can be waiting for her next year
in the same spot, the pathway in the currents clear, her lungs
full of air, her song heard now by you.  

Laura Rodley's chapbook Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for a Mass Book Award. Nominated fora Pushcart Prize, her work has been in anthologies, Massachusetts Review and many others. On the advisory board of the Collected Poet Series, she works as a freelance writer and photographer.