Given To

Given To | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

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“Exide Battery-Recycling Plant Contaminates 10,000 Homes in Poorest Los Angeles
Neighborhoods, Nets No Jail Time”
                L.A. Times

If you are lucky in this life, only two or three people will hate you for cause.


Given to leukemia.
Asthma, lung cancer. Developmental delays, certainly,
a sweeping category.
Given to the sensation of falling while seated or on landings. Nosebleeds, soft bones,

Sores on the tongue.
On the roof of the mouth, a membranous caul or grit skin, damage as relates
to the pleasure of distinguishing sweet from sour.

(Think of your front yard as a dirty needle; think of your daughter as an addict in her sandbox).

Brain cancer, renal leakage. Across the viscous gel of the eye
a faint, floating, illegible scrawl
untranslatable as vision. Edema, joint pain, reading delays.
Blood cancer metzed to the bone,

peripheral distortions: who or what is almost seen at the small corners requires guesswork.

Higher infant mortality rates
consistent with per capita income. (Correlation is not causation, Exide Technologies maintains
in the deposition, given to.)

Smelting is a nineteenth century word involving tremendous heat and commerce.
It goes far back.
Today a car battery smelter
remakes what can be used to represent a savings,
but Chinese factories are where the real margins hold; everything else

is byproduct: lead dust in the ground water, arsenic spoors, whiff of tar gas
in remedial classrooms exceeding

80 parts per million, and the light vertical static of industrial concern: fidelis ad mortem.
(2,850 homes cleaned so far.)

Message in the marrow: you are a vanquished enterprise.
A machine may be complex or simple, but it goes. In Los Angeles we love our cars.

Dorothy Barresiis the author of five books of poetry, most recently What We Did While We Made More Guns, and she is a recipient of an American Book Award for The Post-Rapture Diner. Her manuscript in progress, The Anthropocene, explores the devastating Exide Technologies lead contamination spill in southeast Los Angeles.
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