Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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back torrin a. greathouse

Still Life of Central Valley with Fog Cannons

Staring at the sun, I could imagine the whole world
is ending. Dull prick of light through the frosted

window of the air. Tule fog laid so thickly across
the valley’s floor that even the light is afraid

to move too quickly through it. Like fresh white sheets
in horror movie wind. Sometimes, even your fingertips

could get lost in the stuff. Mist severing your arms
into mystery. One year, more than 100 cars crumpled

into each other under its weight & were still invisible
without the red ghosts of road flares surrounding them.

It’s a careful balance. Now that the fog is vanishing,
as the lakes and rivers go dry, row-after-row of fruits

bake rotten on their branch & vine. But back then,
there were no worries but the bottom line & workers

can’t be exploited on the featureless landscape that
fog makes of their sight. So, the farmers primed

sound cannons in the centers of their fields & burst
the mist back into rain. Left pockets of sky bruised

blue with the noise. I’m certain this was a crime,
but pockets needed filled. Families fed. Years later

when I learned it was our cash crop, pomegranates,
that gave the grenade its name, this made a perfect

kind of sense. To make a meal from a weapon. Thunder
unhooked from the sky. How on the worst mornings,

the nearest pomegranates rattled until burst invisibly.
Honeyed hemorrhage. Every bird for miles, red fruit

pulped & abandoned by a child’s hand. Their organs
burst seeds, scarlet sugar spilling from their beaks.  

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