Collateral Damage

In 1995, 25 years after DDT was banned in the U.S., “researchers were still able to find it in the fatty tissues and blood of nearly 100% of humans.” -- Sharon Osburn, Do Pesticides Cause Lymphonma? 2001


I.
Squadrons of chemicals
invaded the breasts
of my mother.
They are fat seeking missiles.
From her I sucked
pesticides,
an unwitting initiate
in the cult of self-poisoners.

II.
Planes fly low overhead.
Spray nozzles atomize
microscopic paratroopers.
They drift for three blocks,
are carried on dust particles
infiltrate my sister’s yard
assault the skin of my niece
jumping rope in her driveway.

III.
Molecules of methyl bromide
slip from under plastic tarps,
carpet bomb the fields.
They search and destroy,
steal breath from a boy
standing stiff and wide-eyed
beside his mother.
She stoops over the strawberries,
clutches her pregnant belly
with the red-stained hands.

Paul David Tuff