Dust of Life
Bui doi they called the half-American
children of Vietnamese women, dust
of life. I learned this the day I heard
a baby was found alive in a trash compactor--
the same day a homeless man died
when the dumpster he was sleeping in
was picked up by the truck.
Dumpsters are warm because decomposition
is an active process. That might be what
kept the baby alive. The homeless man slept
perhaps like a baby. I lie awake
and rummage the dust and refuse
of my mind. It offers up what it can. Tonight
I forgive myself
for not being able to spin straw to gold
or make shoes, or sing a baby to sleep.
Elizabeth Carothers Herron is the author of four poetry chapbooks and a book of short fiction. Her poems appear in literary magazines, including Arroyo, Lindenwood, Free State Review and Reflections. Ions, Orion, Parabola, Jung Journal and currently Center for Humans & Nature’s “Questions for a Resilient Future: Ancestors” have published her prose. Her work is supported by The Mesa, NEA, and Foundation for Deep Ecology. She lives on the hem of the Atascadero in the Russian River watershed.