Lucy Griffith: On Finding a Barrel of Agent Orange in a Dusty Corner of the Barn

The barrel wants out of the shadows,
to be dusted and shined,

to remember sunlight and freedom,
his role as sturdy brush control,

Dow Chemical says so. Then,
the barrel wants to join his brothers

for a joy ride in mighty C-123, and float
11,000 pounds over 300 acres in just four minutes.

After that, the barrel wants to skip the controversy,
mingle freely again, shed of friend Dioxin.

The barrel wants to be a star not a shame, to
ride in a backpack for everyday sprays.

And then, the barrel wants to study history―
how decades years later, 6,000 square miles of

Vietnam stand leafless in testament.
The barrel wants to know about the soldiers,

the farmers and their grandchildren.
And then some science, the barrel wants to

learn about metabolism, perhaps an evening class,
how mimicking a hormone can grow a plant to death.

Then the barrel will be ready, ready
to dance with the devil

his orange stripe spinning.


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