By Jennifer Blackledge
My grandpa swore by Miracle-Gro,
proudly weighed the globes of
Beefsteak tomatoes in his
meaty hands. The coleus in
his flower boxes raged red all summer
until they touched the gutters.
Every night on the table his
massive cukes swam in
sour cream and vinegar.
When the fungi bloomed fast in his lungs –
filled both lobes and rooted
deep into every alveolus
the superstitious part of me
blamed the Miracle-Gro,
one more bumper crop forced to
bursting; some juiced-pituitary
freak of nature, like the red
open sores that ate my grandma
angrily from the inside out and
burrowed into the marrow of her bones.
It was the asbestos, though:
he and the rest of them down at the plant
took nap-breaks on cushy sheets of it,
cupped it into snowballs to throw.
Black dust covered his car every morning, and
in winter, dirtied their snow.
Jennifer Blackledge is a Detroit-area poet who works in the automotive industry. She has a B.A. from Michigan State University and an M.F.A. from Brown University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in JAMA, I-70 Review, Red Cedar Review, and the Impercipient.