On the third anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil spill

It was the year of the worst disaster.
That summer we went to parties
where everyone stuffed overworked bits
of strangers’ DNA in donated tranny
pantyhose, and when the first black balls
came clean, two hundred miles upshore
they were golf pebbles, then
cantaloupes, that inexplicably solid
cancer of the sea. Our own cancer

had metastasized to its pulsing final stage.
So you breathed in tubes and skimmed
the surface after days of specialized training
and I wore summer frocks to the parties
and drank lemonade and carried rice krispy
trays and the clippings from when
we did the dog. And even then, the cancer grew.
Even then, only May and already
it’s sweltering.

Just out of grad school, I spent awhile in my home state of Mississippi. That summer, we had the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Now I live in Arkansas, about 20 miles from Mayflower, where, a few weeks ago, an Exxon pipe burst. I wrote this in 2010. We’re just a few days past the third anniversary of the BP spill, and it’s happening all over again. Of course, it never really stopped happening.


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