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STRONTIUM-90 by Jeff Burt

"we could not chew the snow"

My mother wore a scarf
and scolded us to warm our ears:
we could not chew the snow
for soot and strontium-90
lurked in every lick,
upper atmosphere churning
chimney bits and atomic
testing isotopes.
My dad laughed
how the ash could strengthen bones
and the isotope deplete them
so if they worked as pulleys
our femurs would stay in balance,
like the trained walk of alcoholics.
If we did lick the snow, and were lucky,
I told my sister, we might walk at night
and not a need a flashlight. We’d glow.


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