“Look at That, You Son of a Bitch” by Peg Duthie

Peg Duthie


In the world I want to believe in, we would greet
hard truths with the gentleness born of water
long gone under the bridge, milk wrung out
of mops whose grey-clean strands
also soaked up the tearfalls slicking
the hay and slopping the mud against
our came-by-their-age-honestly boots. Meanwhile
the moon, which our schoolteachers said
didn’t have water, turns out to have plenty,
albeit not yet potable. That won’t help the folks in Flint
all but screaming to be heard
so many months about their tainted water. Fire
speaks louder than ice or poison. Fire
beats scissors and paper, but rock-
hard facts will sometimes outlast fire
and the love of lucre feeding it. Mind, science
is not a synonym for truth, but science
will soak the o-rings into icy water
after the shuttle burst into flames.
Will drag the jugs of yellowed water
across the miles and into the halls
of prosecutors and presidents. Will dream
of hopping across the ice-pocked floor
of nearby moons, and coming back to tell
not you all of all, but just enough to ignite
a fury fit to rinse out stables—just enough
to stagger you with its shiningness,
this world I have seen and want you to save.

Poets Respond
February 14, 2016

[download audio]


Peg Duthie: “Last week my newsfeed included tributes to astronaut Edgar Mitchell and a report on the Virginia Tech scientists who have been testing the water in Flint and whose faculty adviser has a history of battling authorities dismissive of lead contamination. Mitchell’s statement about wanting to drag politicians into space (the better to order the s.o.b.s to behold the earth) is the kind of sentiment I can simultaneously admire and disagree with: these days, it seems like such a tall order to get most politicians to look at anything other than their own self-interests. And then I read about Flint residents hugging Tech researchers and tears were in my eyes.” (website)

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