Flint, Michigan 2016

The punch-press operator from Flint,
on her afternoon break in the factory lounge,
boils some water for tea on the hot plate.
She lets it steep for a minute and then,
slowly sips it. She is thinking about
what to make for dinner. She is thinking
that the tea tastes funny. She is thinking
about her little boy in day care. She is thinking
about the vacation she will take in two weeks
to see her parents. She is thinking
she’d better get back to work.

The punch-press operator from Flint
turns the faucet on the wall
nearest her garden, uncoils the hose
and walks toward the tomato patch
in her backyard.
She turns on the nozzle
and lets the water stream onto her tender plants.
She is already thinking about the first fruit,
plucking it from its vine and savoring the flavor
right there in her garden.
Two days later, she returns to water the plants again.
She notices that the leaves are dry and shriveled
and the buds have fallen to the ground.
“What the...,” she says, thinking that she should have
watered them sooner. Young plants need more water...

The punch-press operator from Flint
undresses her two year old and puts him
in the tub for his nightly bath.
Something’s not right when the water flows
brown. She thinks, “Rusty pipes.”
Before she can grab it, the boy
lifts his toy boat and lets the water
drip into his mouth.”Oh God,” she screams
and smacks him. She yanks him out of the water
and sticks her finger down his throat. He throws up.
She is crying and hugging him and praying
that she has stopped whatever damage might have slipped
into his fragile body.

The punch-press operator from Flint,
still in her nightgown, already enjoying
her day off, makes a cup of coffee
and turns on the tv. The local newsman
is reporting that the water in Flint
is tainted with lead and to use caution
when drinking it. He adds that bottled water
is available at all neighborhood schools and churches.
She flings the cup across the room,
runs into the bathroom and throws up.

Charlottesville, VA

I am a retired teacher and caterer. I continue to work at both part-time. Mostly, these days, I enjoy cooking very much at a day shelter in Charlottesville, Virginia and volunteering at a day-care center for preschoolers. I go to several writing groups during the week and take poetry writing classes at a local Writerhouse. I am originally from New York City and love visiting and enjoying the amazing energy of my hometown.