According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, between 2007 and 2012 drug wholesalers shipped to West Virginia seven hundred and eighty million pills of hydrocodone (the generic name for Vicodin) and oxycodone (the generic name for OxyContin). That was enough to give each resident four hundred and thirty-three pills.
~ Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker
Not gallons of rotgut filling copper stills
miles back in the silent pines, nor rifles
dropped in the bored hands of children waiting
for football, but a sphere the size of a fingernail,
white like porcelain gleaming on a stained oak shelf.
I’ve seen them fall out of overalls, blazers, sequined purses,
hit the ground like doves spilled from a linen nest.
And I too have picked them up, let them dissolve beneath
my tongue the way high tide seems to take
the moon in its salty mouth. Many nights I believed
in their promise of warmth - my body slouched
on the couch like a puppet with cut strings, my mind
leading me through a lilac-brimmed field
where God rode the wind like a sparrow. How I wanted
to lay in that field for years, stretched out
in bluegrass, the wind a thousand fingertips eroding
my body’s knife-gaunt ridges, Time the touch
of warm rain. For hours I stayed curled
under a blanket of loam, dreaming of smokestacks
swelling with zinnias. Then, the first bitter chill
of morning and the realization that I’d trespassed here,
that a man from beyond the trees would soon
stumble down, kick me until I could only crawl
toward the sharp-kneed daylight, the slaves
of my hands bleeding for anything in this world
that would take more and more to return to.