on depleted uranium by Leonore Wilson

Uranium This is our element, silver-white Almost mistaken for the moon As it rises over Alameda, Oakland, and Baghdad by the Bay. Hue of the span itself that nearly Saw its own demise when the earth Shook and shook in ’89— Cars nose-diving to Treasure Island But by the grace of God hung on Like carnival rides gone wrong. Now those who entertain ambition Place uranium in shells; White House politicians who think Little of particles showering down On nomad lands of Mesopotamia Where palms stud the ancient landscape, Where women in swirling burkas could be Anyone’s mother walking to market To buy a loaf of bread, a sack of sugar. What hails from those missiles Happens, travels like gossip, Lodges in the lung, the kidneys, Sickens semen, spreads; what Firebrand of evil could have dreamt this Not even Sycorax herself with curses, Raining venom on banished Caliban. What monstrous munitions will do Lasts and lasts: chromosomal damage, Helixes twisted irreparably so that children Are born without noses, eyes, ears In a land that once flourished with dates, Wheat and cotton; the Tigris and Euphrates— Rich water ribbons that ministered a civilization Of sheiks in gorgeous palaces That outstripped all fabled praise, but now Left in shambles as if the devil himself Damned the lot, though true there were Caligulas But weapons were much meeker (As if weapons could have conscience or categorizes), Certainly not as egregious as those today. Thus for a drop of oil, our country spares Nothing, seals this awful waste in armored Casings: a testament of bravura we deem As winning until thousands are cursed with cancers, And then the fabric of that vision will be straight Dismissed, for that land we plagued lies faraway. by Leonore Wilson