Author’s Note: “I live just across a cove from the Delaware City Refinery, so it’s often in my thoughts. It’s been bought and sold several times during its sixty-four years; and in 2009 it was shut down. A buyer was eventually found, and it reopened two years later. I kept thinking about those two years, and so this poem imagines the refinery as a living thing in the process of dying, embraced by the earth, briefly restored to something true, as maybe someday it will be.”
After Peak Oil (November 20, 2009 – October 7, 2011)
Then it sat abandoned empty still
unmoving remnant of the empire
that had reached its outer edges and slowed
and dried and crept back an inch from there.
but the air that floated
in and out in slow shallow
breaths after everything was
turned off. Its hollow
frame rusted and thinned. Delicate
patches of light spread
around bolts and crept along seams. Wasps
built nests in dark unswept places. Vines
climbed up. The chain link border
was easily breached.
Lights burned out, and nobody
came to replace them. When the wind was
strong up the bay you could hear
the song of its brittle gray bones
Anne Yarbrough lives on the lower Delaware River between a bridge and a refinery. In addition to Delmarva Review, her poetry has recently appeared in Poet Lore, Gargoyle, Philadelphia Stories, and Amethyst Review. This poem is part of a book-length project in progress, Refinery.
Delmarva Review is a national literary publication with strong regional roots. It specializes in discovering compelling new poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from thousands of submissions annually. As a result, the authors may be well established or new, seeking a good home to display their most creative work. The review is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit publication supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. It is sold in paperback and digital editions at Amazon.com and other online booksellers and at specialty regional bookstores. See the website for information: DelmarvaReview.org.