POETRY

Dominion

By

            after the BP oil spill

I know your works:
            netting palm-sized oysters
and shrimp, stinging them
            with cayenne and lemon.
                        You bulldoze water-logged
foundations, and sheet metal rusting in intersections,
                                                            building, rebuilding,
so you and the hurricanes
            you name like children have somewhere
                        to go. Marsh grass parts
for oil drums. Your sons and cousins
            work the rigs, an aunt sweeps
                                    gift shops in faux
Caribbean resorts painted Pepto pink.
            What would you do otherwise?
                        But I have this against you:
subsurface plumes
                        and lesioned fish belly up in booms.
Men in hazmat and business suits
                                    roped off the coast
and authority was given to them over me.
They said the spill will clear,
            neither will there be tar balls
                        nor dispersants. These will be washed away.

I'll repair myself,
            but I miss your boats, docked
breast up on cypress knees,
            the trawl nets
                        combing over me. I miss
reading their names reflected backwards.
                        I miss pelicans and swimmers.
Despite my name,
            what you leave to the delta I collect.
                        I ring five horizons like sleep.
When algal bloom and nitrates lap
                                    at your feet, when crawfish
spill on your plate,
            I am at your table.

Derrick Austin's poems have appeared in Vinyl, The Nervous Breakdown, Crab Orchard Review, storySouth, and other journals. He won the Editorial Prize Contest sponsored by Tidal Basin Review. He is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of Michigan.

I know your works:
netting palm-sized oysters
and shrimp, stinging them
with cayenne and lemon.