To Succumb

The sun sinks low, lighting the lake’s blue-green

ooze that gleams like a filthy jewel. Algal blooms.

You read about them in the news. Your eyes snagged

on the phrases Fish die-offs. Dead zones. You learned

it was impossible to tell which blooms were harmful

without a microscope, and even then you’d need an eye

trained to detect toxicity. What was his name? The boy

who died recently from E. coli poisoning after swimming

in Wolf Lake. Agricultural runoff. A warming environment.

On the night of his funeral, the boy’s father got drunk

and shot all the cows from a nearby farm before

turning the gun on himself. You feel something

soft and waterlogged under your foot; a wraith-like

creature with a delicately coiled tail; an angel;

a bloated tampon. You’re so tired. Lie down among

the rain-wrecked T-shirts, the odd Trojan wrapper.

Go on — I won’t tell.

Emily Sknov-Nielsen

Emily Skov-Nielsen

Emily Skov-Nielsen is a poet from Saint John, New Brunswick. She is the author of The Knowing Animals (Brick Books).

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