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Special Interest

Mill Town 1965

A tall, thin smokestack
thrusts open a broad umbrella
of yellow-brown vapors
that fall to earth
as soft, gray silt.
A billowy cloud that cues the chorus,
“All is well!” More smoke, more work.”

Living here alters olfactory nerves.
No one detects the smell,
or notices a wheeze,
or the yellow speckles
on the maple and oak leaves,
and brown needles
on more and more of the pines. We splash joyfully in the brown, sudsy froth
at the bottom of the spillway,
and are lulled to sleep
by the whine of a buzz saw.

Marking time by change of shift,
we craft apparitions
in the perfumed and mystic fog
of West Virginia Pulp and Paper.