Blast Log

Your body tense as hay-twine,

your skin cool to touch, your notes

shivery and blue when you write

below my chicken-scratch: another

blast time. And license tags

of the chemical trucks rattling by,

headed for the orphan ponds

at the valley fill. We record the cracks

in our vinyl siding, flyrock damage,

the oily residue you hose off. We tune

the scanner. Sometimes find clues

about the next blast. Or permits

in the newspaper. You look for

the waxwings that nested

in the locust last year.

I count the moles on your back

with my grass-stained hands,

each brown spot a prayer I mouth

against omens in ridgeline, in creek

and sky, against jagged borders,

changes in color, shape, or size.

In Prenter Hollow

where the energy company fills

secret lagoons with sludge, pumps

millions of gallons into boreholes,

old mine shafts, cracking the aquifer—

In the frame house sided

with asphalt shingles,

in the bathtub veined with cracks,

smears we can't bleach clean,

I run a puddle, shed my clothes

that the washer will stain

with rust swirls—

In water laced with grit,


I squat, hug my knees,

swipe my chest, sprinkle my head,

and when my love brings a towel

with her water-burned hands,

I rise up, barely wet—

In the wells and hollows

of my body, spoils accrue,

ores that alter my blood,

mottle my arms with sores,

and bid stones to rise in the deeps,

even as my cells fight back,

skin flushes,

I'm the red rag

calling for a strike—

William Woolfitt is the author of the poetry collections Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press, 2014) and Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, 2016). His writings have appeared in Blackbird, Image, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, Crab Orchard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Epoch, and other journals. He lives in Cleveland, Tennessee.