“That forest is dead”

our guide told us again.

“The trees turned red,

their needles sharp little

vessels of poison.

Even the dirt if disturbed

can kill you in time.

There are broken down


secret atoms with unknown

half-lives that are shadows

and these shadows can never

be illuminated.

The army men, they came in

with spades and rakes and orders

to dig trenches in the soil.

They dug and dug and breathed in

so much of the darkness

that they became it.

Rumor and myth surround them

taken back into the wilds

they ran off unbidden

to shed their skins and eyes

and be reborn as things that

crawl in the night.”

The guide shivered.

“Long ago when the forest

lived my great-grandfather walked it.

He sang to the birds

and talked to the foxes.

Now I lead tourists into

lairs of unseen things for money.

Chernobyl has many uses

but most of them are best forgotten.”