The sun falls behind our mountain
The site was chosen because of its isolation and because of the abundance of water from the Columbia River, which could be used as a coolant for the reactor...B Reactor produced plutonium that was used in a test explosion at White Sands, New Mexico, and in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
—Zach Cook, Nuclear Legacy
like a child colors an Easter egg;
he splatters red and yellow vinegar
on mother’s favorite dress,
leaves only silica to sparkle.
When we were smaller
we thought it might be uranium
glittering in the sand—
or tips of spider legs, still with life
left to grasp our bombing-range soil,
weaving threads of talc
between private underground pools,
snagging the 60,000 apparitions
that dangle from delicate spools.
Beneath paltry abundance,
a spindly swingset under desert noon,
every morning we dug, raw-handed
and Fruity Pebble fresh, scooping down
until the sand was wet and cool.
Once, we dug so low we stood
waiting to hear mother whisper
in father’s ear; the muffled
cry of airplanes we counted two
by two; the murmers of a patient
monsoon. No one had told us
what the water knew—
how to weave graveyards
into rope ladder,
to press pursed lips
against earth, to suck away
King CardamomI found you before the first cutting, before flecks of alfalfa
peppered streets silkened by early summer sun.
I didn’t know then what a body needs—crème fraîche
for a good rise, heaping spoons of rye and thyme, let rot,
the lipid slickness of an emerald cracked open and fried.
You taste green. With your graze I am without jaundice.
I am sweet and you—
your bite recalls machetes stinging blackberry brambles.
I cleared that meadow in a day, meeting you beneath the brush,
licking the blood off the wounded before sucking them whole.
You: the stigmata on my tongue, a rose petal clipped
by thorn; I taste only clover. Here, Cancer is not cancer,
but is you: a lip smacked patch of nettles left as an altar,
wild strawberries before the first frost.
Elle Fournier is currently pursuing an MA in English at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she researches the rhetoric of shampoo bottles. A Pacific Northwest native, she grew up in the shrub-steppe of Washington State.
One Big Shoe is New York-based playwright and street photographer Sean Pomposello. Specializing in the stolen moment, One Big Shoe’s candid glimpses of the New Yorkers he encounters serve as a character development tool for his dramatic work, which has been recognized by theatres and festivals nationwide. With a background in television and advertising, One Big Shoe brings a love of aesthetics, a keen interest in street stories and the ability to identify and chronicle drama in the everyday.