canal road

we used to pick
fat red raspberries
and plumb blackberries
from a great patch
of briar thorn bushes
fingers and mouths
stained with the
sweet juice as lines
of red blood welled
large yellow spiders
with intricate webs
and a flurry of
brown happy robins
swooping in for a snack
it would be hot as we
wore long sleeves and
denim blue jeans as
the sun glared down
filling baskets with
the perfectly ripened
berries to make jellies
to last the cold winter
there was no thought
to the irradiated soul
the radon gas creeping
uo from the soil so
abundant with life
that came later when
the men from the government
set small black discs
to collect samples as i
smiled with a sticky face

the government bought
all of the land and built
a chainlink fence with
radiation signs warning
that not to trespass
the trees i planted for
arbor day standing in the
overgrown grass and the
bushes with fat berries
held in solitary confinement
in a radioactive wasteland
just outside of radium city
i still remember thorns
snagging my flannel shirt
sweating as i watched the
spider patiently sitting
in the middle of its web
the way the berries popped
between my teeth as
garter snakes slithered
through the tall grass
cold frozen mornings as
the sun glinted diamonds
off the hoarfrost coating
the naked branches of the
trees i thought i would climb
or carve intial into of
childhood crushes and
teenage hormonal needs
and home has become nothing
but a graveyard where
the best parts of me died
interred in radiation soaked
soil and locked behind
a rusted chainlink fence


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