Thoughts While Crossing the Toxic River

Gina Williams

Yesterday, a Chinese artist sold
a jar filled with air
from the mountains of France
at an auction for eight hundred dollars.
A cormorant is drying
his wings on an oil-covered
piling above the muddy roil,
beneath an ash grey sky,
instinct his only currency.
Aldo Leopold once said he was glad
to not be young in a future without wilderness.
This bridge is strewn
with the litter of pain.
Blood-stamped gauze, wet
splotches of phlegm, broken glass,
bent needles, one sock stuffed
into a crack.
Toxic currents swirl
toward the sea. A coal train rumbles by.
The cormorant takes off
as I lean dizzily into the railing,
wing-clipped, flightless.

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