Baptism by Fire by V. C. Myers

-after the 2014 Elk River, WV Chemical Spill/Water Crisis

Cleanliness is truly next to Godliness
here, in West "By God" Virginia—
where coal and chemicals are 
worshipped as deities.

Our water source was contaminated
with 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol—
a licorice-scented chemical
used to clean that divine coal.

We are now immaculate!
Holy coals burning so bright— 
in our scorched skin,
in our blackened lungs.

We are so blessed!
to breathe at all here in Chemical Valley—
a sunken kingdom crowned 
by coal mines and chemical plants.

I once believed 
the Golden Ratio was God's fingerprint—
before the chemicals branded my skin 
with his cleansing touch.

It's hard to see sacred geometry now,
to feel beyond the pain of betrayal—
that holy fire we drank up
in full, unguarded faith.

V. C. Myers is an Appalachian poet and music journalist. Her work appears, or is forthcoming, in Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, Appalachian Heritage, and elsewhere. Her poetry was featured in a fine art and ekphrastic poetry exhibit at the FRANK Art Gallery, North Carolina in March, 2019. She has lived in Ireland, England, and West Virginia, her birthplace and current home.

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