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Thursday, October 31, 2019


by Susan Gubernat

                                                            This is the Hour of Lead –
                                                            Remembered, if outlived… Emily Dickinson

Lead that grazes the mouth of a child, bloodies her.
Lead she drinks down from her little cup of water.

Lead spewed at one another instead of spit
(though the spit too finds its target).

Lead they load, reload, load, reload
Lead soaring like an earthbound bird emboldened

by flight. Lead sinking to the bottom of a pan
boiling away on a kitchen fire. But can

a mother ever make the bath safe again?
As lead rains hard, can she throw her body in 

the path of the boy being eyed by lead,
stalked by lead, prey to the beast of lead?

The lead in the man’s pockets weighs him 
down like coins he thinks he must spend

to grow lighter. He pans the river for lead,
curses crowds with his shower of lead.

Underground, the dark pipes groan with lead.
Above, the air clamps shut with a seam of lead.

O lead, where is thy sting? There
and there and there.            Here. 

Susan Gubernat’s latest book The Zoo at Night won the Prairie Schooner Book Award from the University of Nebraska Press. Her work has appeared in many publications. She lives and works in the SF Bay Area.