From issue #3:

Honor Vincent

Lee and the marsh


Lee Sherman casts a spell on the marsh:
checks soul is alone
feels with his face the wind’s direction
and with the barrel beside him
makes a cloud appear thirty feet away

today something interrupts
(bat? bird? bug?)
flies through the cloud
and falls,
bewitched into stone by Lee’s wall

Lee puts his wand down.
He builds a bridge of shovel heads and
Bones, old pants and a baseball glove,
to cross the sweet sucking mud to where the
creature lays

grey and white, a bird
half the length of his forearm when cradling her
a cold sack of soft spasms
clawed feet and dinosaur eyes
he tries not to vomit

nearly drops her; reconfigures
one hand to head and one over chest,
Lee places his mouth over her beak.
His mother taught him this when he was a boy
first given dominion over their chickens

sometimes a bird will need air,
or for you to pump its chest with two thumbs
this way he makes her breathe again
her eyes disappear, appear, disappear
and she makes a thin noise

Lee puts her on his truck’s warm hood
and returns to his barrel, which has finished its
work, and has shut itself off.
As he collects his bridge a thought comes
unbidden to him:

In an explosion at the plant
a knob turned in error left him
coated in carbon tet
a chewing marzipan heat that disappeared
his clothes and shoes

he was alive, he borrowed his friend’s jumpsuit
and went home to scrub his burning parts:
armpits, asscrack, kneebacks, toe webs
and buy a new pair of boots

another one comes:
His mom is a corpse on fire at an illegal funeral
His mom is a set of bone fragments the bayou
takes swipes at
thirty feet under the marsh

when he is back to his truck,
the bird has gone, and left
a w-shaped mark in the dirt on the hood
and he feels a hum begin
at having saved a life

Part of Lee Sherman’s job is to roll a tar buggy
full of plate glass waste to the Calcasieu slip and
blow a cloud of chlorinated hydrocarbon vapor
out over the marsh, where no one will see him.
This is illegal.

The chemicals hang over the canal as a mist
before precipitating into the water. A female
Wilson’s Storm-Petrel feels her wings stop
moving as though she has died, though she can
still smell the plankton she was after.

Lee did not want to touch the mud or the water
within it, as the canal had recently begun to
return fish relieved of most of their skin, and its
stench already sank too deeply into his hair and
skin.

The petrel goes into shock as Lee picks her up:
she still cannot move, but her heart beats so
quickly it hurts her, and her temperature begins
to drop. As she breathes, her beak clicks, and
she makes new little moaning sounds.

“In…chlorinated hydrocarbon poisoning,
af ected birds are weak and uncoordinated and
may show convulsions…such poisons produce
hypersensitivity and a continuous overall
tremor as well as fits.” (Cooper, 2008)

When animals go into shock, the first thing to
do is put them in a warm, quiet place where
they cannot see or hear you.
In most cases they will either recover or die
within thirty minutes.

“Exposure to chlorinated aliphatic solvents
(methanes, ethanes, and ethenes) has been
associated with… adverse health effects,
including CNS, reproductive, liver, and kidney
toxicity, and carcinogenicity.” (Ruder, 2006)

Many lethal chemicals, including carbon
tetrachloride, smell sweet. The plant used
carbon tet to smooth ribbons of glass into
plates.
 
 
One manager, when pointing out the vat on
Lee’s first day, told him that it is also used in
fire extinguishers.

 
 
Lee’s plant refused to reimburse him for the
clothing and shoes that were destroyed in his
accident.
 
 
 
Lee’s mother was cremated and spread at the
shore of the Bayou d’Inde, illegal in the state
of Louisiana, but was what she wanted. 27
years later, the place is under shallow water.

 
 
 
 
 
Lee’s mother liked birds very much.