The factory’s dust settles in its neighbors’
pores: particulate, volatile, dusty-hot.
Sometimes you can hear the air
ignite. Stars scurry off their festive
moltings in a self-governing pattern
like ants. Paola says organize, a strike
would stop the bleeding. The air is a skin
for the blood in carbon. What leeches out
smells sulphurous as matches’ flint-strike.
Each seed has been condemned. Each
condemnation has within it another
condemnation like dolls filled with filled
candies in a child’s pocket.
Still, the twinkle
of the refinery lights before the ocean entranced me
as I would ride in the back of my parents’ car
through a night layered in salt smell and taillights.
By my childhood home, leaded gas burned
on Marine Avenue. In an apartment,
I woke when I-45 did. In a home I owned,
the freeway’s swell out-roared Tesoro’s flame stacks.
When I moved to the mountains, the quiet
was so loud I couldn’t sleep.