All over the air was yellow.
Brown sky; spilling poison plumes.
I thought the stacks were pretty.
At the rim of the lake:
dead algae, dead shrimp,
decaying birds half-preserved,
oozing puddles of rotten flies.
Summer winds carried the stink.
Everywhere, the air hung poison.
In church, the doors stayed open,
so it came inside. My forehead
resting on a cool wood pew;
long cotton skirt; mother nursing the baby.
It burned, but then you forgot.
Children gulp big lungfuls
—we didn’t know
how it would enter our bodies
and remain inside, changing us, too.

Image: Great Salt Lake from plane by David Herrera, licensed under CC 2.0.

Holli Carrell:
“Miasma” began as a meditation on the environmental degradation of The Great Salt Lake area, which is near where I was born and raised. When I was a child, a Magnesium plant on the rim of the lake was the nation’s worst air polluter, responsible for over 90% of the chlorine emitted into the atmosphere. Surprisingly, during composition, many of these images of corrosion and pollution began to latch onto memories of my religious upbringing, especially the adverse psychological effects the religion had on my identity formation and mental health. I hope the rest of the poem speaks for itself.

Holli Carrell
Latest posts by Holli Carrell (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.