Dump Stories

Stay away from the dump, our mother said.
It was full of rats, fleas, diseases.
We wondered why there were such places
where you could die just by being there.

And yet, like clockwork, the green
trash bags collected on the sidewalk
every Tuesday evening. We knew where
they were headed. The evil... we were part of it.

Meanwhile, we crossed the roadway
where the kid was hit.
Hot summer days, we swam in the lake
where three drowned.

Never heard of anyone dying in the dump
though we could see its hills of trash
from the highway, see people with their
refrigerators, TVs, trucks, large and small,

a community of fellow travelers
in sickness... as we passed crosses,
flowers, in memory of car crash victims.
And what about the news in the paper...

woman beaten to death by husband,
old man slips on soap, smacks his
head against the bath-tub, someone
electrocuted in his basement,

home heater explodes, three children burnt to death. It seemed like the place most warned against was the safest to be.

And yet, for all the evidence, we never did play in the dump's benevolent junk piles, anodyne old cars, harmless critters. We stayed secure in the real danger.

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