Poetry Corner: In Flint

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The water flows freely, but what can be seen?

Only tinges of brown, and yellow and green.

“No reason to worry, keep drinking,” they said.

Now our children are destined to die from the lead.

A city turned toxic as metals leach through,

but what could be done? Really, what could we do?

Sweet life giving liquid, now poison instead.

While we yearn for hydration, we aren’t thirsty for lead.

The right is as basic as a human might think—

clean water to bathe in, clean water to drink.

Clean water to cook with, and wash off our hands.

Is the government listening? Do they hear our demands?

Jug after jug we bring filled to the brim,

with water so murky a fish could not swim.

Water so deadly our brains feel the ache,

as we beg for the action officials don’t take.

So we wait and we ponder, and wonder and moan.

Are they really this blind, or their hearts made of stone?

Now the question weighs heavy on all of our minds.

Was cutting the costs — worth risking our lives? In Flint.

I was deeply moved during a recent Toxicology module in my Biology class, where I learned more about the Flint Water Crisis and the devastating toll it has taken on the people of the city.

As a mother of two, I was especially saddened by the terrible impact the crisis had on the children, which prompted me to write this poem for our Engaging the Topic assignment.

Written from a Flint, Michigan resident’s perspective, my poem titled “In Flint,” explores the toxic situation that Flint residents faced, and the angst they must have felt in waiting for the government officials to take action and make necessary changes to protect their children and community. The poem ends with the line, “was cutting the cost worth risking our lives?” which is a question directed at those officials who made major decisions regarding the water system, then lied, covered up and refused to take accountability for the deadly lead tainted water of Flint.

Although I did not personally go through this experience, I was able to relate to the feelings of desperation and sadness that not only the mothers, but the community as a whole must have felt.

Shavonne Allen

Shavonne Allen is a wife and a mother from Southern California. She also teaches Zumba and in her spare time she likes to keep busy with her family and Boxer puppies!

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