Dust Bowl

By Jennifer Neely

It is not disappearing,
so much as being lifted up and whisked away.
The wind carries the ground off, particle by particle,
mote by mote.
Perhaps they are being ejected,
or launched:
Bombs, atomic,
proving the destructive properties of the very small.

Black rollers head eastward
and when they finally do settle, they come together
in drifts and swaths
covering everything.
Colorado colored copper,
Kansas browned and drowned,
Oklahoma, beiged and besieged.
These are the united states of the Sahara.

It is hard to see through the veil of earth thrown into the sky,
a tsunami of soil bearing down as hard as any ocean storm,
stinging eyes, biting cheeks,
smiting the hands that feed and need to be fed.
It chokes throats already too dry to squawk,
and kills that which could fly away.
It buries iron and steel,
and forces a reckoning with a wind
that won’t die down for twenty years.

 


Jennifer Neely received her MFA in fiction from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; she has published in Portage Magazine, Steam Ticket, and Masque & Spectacle, among others.

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