fluorine

arsenic in calculators, mercury in felt

hats, mad as a poisoned hatter

pyrophoric undercurrent in mundane

acts assume poison unless otherwise

informed crowded alloys detect no

health damage until generations later i

brush my teeth with nuclear intensity

the cavities i avoid destined for others

fall into hazardous-waste piles up as

i sleep smells though i don’t see it

transported across oceans & into sad

rural neglect how shiny my teeth are

this cold crisp morning

Rita Wong, “fluorine” from forage (Nightwood Editions, 2007). Copyright © 2007 by Nightwood Editions. Reprinted by permission of Nightwood Editions.