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Stolen Sugar

By Keiran Potter

A poem responding to the photograph ‘A Vacant Home in Hoopersville, MD’ by Greg Kahn, Getty Images Climate Visuals Grant recipient

The rain water settles in troughs
Deep groves of uprooted earth disturbed,
Its sacred guts thrown to the wind,
Like babes of a dandelion.
Few will stake the soil again.
Less, given the time to grow.

The impression of teeth litte­­r the banks.
This great land,
Now a mauled crab apple,
Scarred and shredded.
Its borders becoming clouds of smoke,
The snarl of the waves, its catalyst.

She has been releasing flares for decades,
But we have always turned away.

How long have we slept on sugar cubes?
We should have known
When we licked the blood
From spent eagle feathers,
As if it was syrup.
That we’d  soon be left with gums
Crawling with rot.

Scarlet handprints smear the beams,
Hung like sick medals upon the walls.
Walls that were never ours.
We wade, knee deep,
Through sea salt and stewed bones,
Sucked dry of everything but sinew.

Yet still we are stunned.
As the waves chew our garden path,
Trade bricks, for centuries of bone.
And we settle,
On the tongue of the sea,
Fizzling like a stolen cube of sugar.

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