Waiting for the Chemical Plume

Things move slowly in the middle of this wide land,
the time measured by the inch in fields of gmo corn,
things move slowly,

the house by the river, tall stilts buried in the sticky
mud of the flood plain, falling into disrepair, its
wounds haphazard

and invisible until the day it keels over like a giant
land mammal, down on its knees, one narrow shoulder
easing to the earth,

it happens gradually then all of a sudden, the water
at last has its way. Today the chemical plume from
West Virginia

is 100 miles upstream, carried on the current at
two-point-four miles per hour, it will get here in its
own slow time and

pass of its own accord. It will leave a message in the
bottom land, in the thick soft banks, in the roots
and stems

of seedlings and wild dock, in the footprints of the
sandpipers and the seagulls, it will leave a message
of its arrival

and of its passing, in the language of the slow river,
the water having its way, the message so much older
than words.