Pollution

By Amelie Meltzer
Feature image: George Inness. Landscape, Sunset, 1886/1887. Courtesy Art Institute of Chicago.

The sun sets red through clouds of ash
made of normal stuff, like trees and brush, but
also bedroom walls, Persian rugs, winter clothes, LEGOs,
maybe the family dog.

At a safe distance from the actual disaster,
we cough and small-talk about wind patterns, particulate counts.
It’s everyone’s opening line on Tinder, something like,
“I’ve got an extra N95 mask waiting for that special someone ;-)”

And I wake up halfway through a memory back from the dead of
kissing my summer camp bunkmate, to practice for boys,
scrunchies on our skinny wrists, hands in each other’s hair,
a lump in my throat.

I can’t believe I lost this. My tiny, broken heart
suddenly unhidden by the bonfire smell.

She must have slipped under the door like smoke.


Amelie Meltzer is a San Francisco native studying in Pittsburgh. She is a medical student and activist working to address racial bias in healthcare and promote the needs of queer and gender-nonconforming patients. She writes poetry and nonfiction. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Stoneboat, RipRap, and Roanoke Review.

Twitter: @AmelieMeltzer

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