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Kelly R. Samuels

Walking Centralia

It isn’t as if we couldn’t manage the road
though it would take caution — the careful step over
what had rucked and split.


Underneath there is a brewing heat that emits

steam, would remind us of other realms — the layers we learned of
in school.


You, the names.
Me, the drawing with all its shading.


He says the basements never needed warming

after. That, then, the one boy fell where it gave way.

And I imagine a cry and an arm

and the blessing of something.

There’s a rusted street sign, a cemetery, the husk of a rowhouse.

Along the slope, silver birches barely seen.


The crane’s arm is visible from the road,
as is where they’ve cleared—once you show me.


Once, the bluff’s side was nothing but trees and a trail

few walked.


But there’s been less water pressure in all the new houses
and the small station just up the block can’t manage. And, so —.


In medicine, a reservoir can be the source of

infection, where nothing good comes from. How I know this,
I don’t know.


Long waits in small clinic rooms, a word flaring out
from all the others.


From French, to reserve, to keep — as if any of us would want

to retain the agent of disease, what will lead to us dying

quicker than others. But water — that’s something

else entirely.

It’ll be completed early in the new year, you say.
All these warm days with no snow serve as aid.


We turn away from it—

briefly—into the valley.

Much later, when I leave, nothing of it can be seen.

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Kelly R. Samuels is the author of Words Some of Us Rarely Use (Unsolicited). Her poems have appeared in Salt Hill, The Carolina Quarterly, The Pinch, Juked and RHINO. Her collection on climate change, All the Time in the World, is forthcoming in September from Kelsay Books. She lives in the Upper Midwest.

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