Sounds like a species of coral,
or a flute carved from animal bone.
Not lesions on my father’s left lung,
sheath of hard plaque tumors,
flesh trophies from his labors.
Fixed boiler pipes rife with asbestos,
installed tiles of this fireproof mineral
in housing projects now crumbling.
Worked decades as a one-man show
with a truck of tools & a flimsy mask
barely filtering drywall & joint compound
shot through with tremolite filaments.
Millimeter fibers latticed his lungs,
amassed cells in crazed refrain,
rinds of sharp grit binding his breath.
Dust clouds followed him home.
I costumed myself in his work clothes.


The first tumor distends
through his shirt like a cartoon
heart beating out of its chest––
others wrangling liver & spleen.
We are carrion & meteor, our meat
dressed in fire & diaphanous gas.
How to measure dark matter
amidst bright coordinates of stars?
At the cusp, as breath constricts,
slows––we betroth to zero,
held in a dilating spotlight.

Willa Carroll
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