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A vacation afternoon poem. Today’s big excursion was to the pet store, to replace D-1’s goldfish that died in November.  She’s been saving her dollars to replace her fish, so we came home with two identical goldfish with swishy tails, and one beta for D-2, which already almost died when she 1) fed it some granola bar, and 2) dumped nearly all the water out of its little dish. If it hadn’t been for HP checking in on her one last time before nap, that sucker’d be dead already, and I would’ve set a personal best for least amount of time alive in my house for a fish.

I have not had good fish luck in my life, as pets, I mean.

They are such primordial-looking creatures. Big, unprotected eyes. The internet inspires me, and earlier today I totally ignored my family, under the guise of poeming, to watch this documentary on the Radioactive Wolves of Chernobyl. It is amazing! It is beautifully shot, and what has happened to the land in the decades after the disaster is stunning and profound. You should watch it: here. The film is great because it not only documents the rebirth of the wolf population, but also looks in depth at all wildlife in the zone, and provides good historical situating regarding the zone’s devastating past. I was inspired.

Thinking of fish, in the documentary they filmed eight foot-long carp in the rivers. Carp keep growing their entire lives, and can live up to a century. If they have grown to eight feet long in twenty-eight years, how huge will they be when they are eighty? Whale carp, that’s what they will become.

This was not a creepy film. There were no mutant zombie wolves. No, instead the wildlife populations looked robust and thriving, as though extremely high levels of radiation were a small price to pay for a large swath of land free of humans. The abandoned cities must certainly be poem fodder. 500,000 people were displaced after the meltdown, and though I’ve seen ghost towns, I’ve never seen ghost cities except in sci-fi thrillers. The ferris wheel in one of the larger cities on the Belarussian side of the zone was particularly haunting.

Anyhow, I’m going to try to write a poem about fallout.

The Fallout

And we should prepare our necks for that next weight of disaster. 

Funny how the fallout became the restoration. After decades of land improvement stripped and drained the zone,  the Pripyat marshes roused attentive, thanks to nuclear disaster and the world’s biggest rodents, busy as ever. Not carefully, not hesitant, the zone reclaimed her own. She took it back with vines and marsh reeds, and with a long chain of hunger, unbroken by man. In the orchards came boars and badgers, in the woodlands came moose and forest bison. The best fed raptors achieved adaptation to the dangers of dust. The fishes will grow for a lifetime, unknowing of hooks. The insects have free sky to range beyond the borders, but the risk of their pollen has not been measured.

In the Zone, nothing remains of man’s imagination. Not three-headed wolves with glowing red eyes, nothing but maybe a mouse with an extra tail or two, maybe a two-beaked stork, but nothing zombie to entrance us. Only healthy pup dens next to sagging ferris wheels, and peregrines in the skyscrapers.

As much as we seek out stories, of glowing, nuclear beasts, the earth abides, and processes, and turns. What was will be again, and again, and again, and more.


This is the rumspringa of return, in three short decades, oh, the land has danced. What a hard-earned triumph, of land over man. In its middle age, what will be the balance? Can we keep us out?  The scientists with their counters, let in for safe and efficient hours, let them find levels beyond all safety, so the blessing may continue, from the fallout from when

when we shut ourselves out of nature.


Okay. I’m not sure about that. Gonna revise later. Or not. Really, it is a film worth watching. Happy Saturday!