The Gray Air that We Breathe

Wed, 01/15/2014 - 22:57 -- kashi

Location

Hugged fingers for safety protect me

as my grandmother and I mark our paths on the ground

to ensure that we can return home again.

Our hearts racing, but this is no anticipated adventure

This is what it takes for a simple stroll, dreaded and necessary,

from our home to the grocery store

whose own sign we cannot see.

The sign has long been taken - but I swear it’s still there -

Only now it is consumed and suffocated by the same polluted haze

That my grandmother and I stand in.

Never have I wondered what toxic chemicals smell like

But now I know as it permeates our skin, fills our lungs

With cough-inducing wastes in this gray air that we breathe.

‘Those chimneys of unregulated, myopic companies erupting with byproduct wastes’

‘Towering construction sites every other block spewing dust’

‘The unchecked exhausts of too many cars’

I hear the name calling and finger pointing of our neighborhood gossip

But talking must follow with change.

Each and all must work together to realize this severity

Beyond the search for places to blame

To promote in fevered determination

The necessary regulation and collaboration

To eradicate this gray air that we breathe.

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