Ten Miles Upriver from the Browns Ferry Nuclear Facility
Will Stokes

I want it dragged through the garden.
Crushed cardamom and cracked fennel seeds
pestled in molars all pell-mell,
washed clean with vinegar and dill floss.
Who tilled the soil here, and why?

This year, the sunflowers are high
but the squash shrivel in droves.
Are green tomatoes just red tomatoes picked too early?
The lettuce shoots bleached and bittered by the Alabama sun––

Grit-slick, flytrap, blue hydrangea––
In the morning I wake and smell vinegar,
grease, jam, clotted cream,
gar-fish-vines and wraith floss.

Overnight, rotted stucco was strewn across the lawn.
After this storm we will have to shock the koi pond,
our precious invaders, at home
two feet deep on Cherokee lands.
Crepe myrtle sneezes daylily brine and hollyhock––

When the sirens erupt, and it’s too late to evacuate
what will you eat at the end of your world?
I will have a quiche, made from the eggs of our chickens
and chives from the side-yard

taken on the veranda with a glass of sweet tea,
my hair strands vibrating in a breeze
that too quickly hastens––
wind, sirens, trumpets, plume
At home in my containment zone with rain chain pillars, lambs-ear, kudzu blooms––
Will Stokes is a poet, product manager, and dinner-party host based in Brooklyn. He studied at Vanderbilt University and the Berlin Writers’ Workshop. His work has previously appeared in Olney Magazine.

View David Joel Kitcher’s selected works.

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