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poetry Afterglow

“We think what we can’t see can’t hurt us,” says poet Ann Hudson about environmental pollution. Think again.


By Ann Hudson

The Radium Dial Factory stood empty,

fenced off, abuzz.  Boards on the windows,

scrub weeds pocking the dusty yard.  The story

quieted down.  After a while no one gazed

through the chainlink fence.  When the factory

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was leveled, locals picked over the rubble

helping themselves to bricks, still perfectly serviceable. 

Schools were glad to reclaim the oak desks.

Even now radioactive fingerprints tarnish

everything: houses, a car dealership, a running track,

a lot that hosts a flea market on the weekends.

St. Columba Cemetery radiates. 

We think what we can’t see can’t hurt us. 

We think this deep in our bones.

Ann Hudson is the author of The Armillary Sphere (Ohio UP), and Glow (Next Page Press), a chapbook on radium.  Her poems have appeared in Orion, Crab Orchard Review, Colorado Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. A senior editor for Rhino, Ann teaches at a Montessori school in Evanston, Illinois.