They Don’t Know

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They don’t know

Leaping, squealing, delighting in the mud

between their toes, how

Downstream from us it swirled in a thick,

black surliness

Their heads turned away from me

and the panic in my eyes

They thrilled in the surprise of the mudslide

made perfect for play and pleasure

While, not far from us, the black-as-tar earth

consumed houses, poured through windows,

sweated through floorboards

Mommy! Mommy! They screamed

in play as my son threw a handful

at my daughter

They don’t know

and I can’t tell them

that the blue sky ahead is for all of us

When I know it is not


This is an ekphrasis poem (written off of visual art) that I wrote during the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival.

Image: Nikki McClure, 2009, Chronicle Books

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