I had walked through Whatcom Park on June 9th, after completing some work in the Bellingham area. As a Huxley student, I had spent many hours in the park, and so the news of the explosion hit me hard. I loved the park, Bellingham, and Huxley.
Two typically mischievous ten-year-old boys
a bag of Reservation fireworks
one robin-egg blue sky
one sticky note written to his parents
from an 18 year old
just days after
his high school graduation:
Homework finished. Gone fishing. Home before dark.
One room filled with computers, programmers and analysts
one flashing message—
An Olympic-sized pool of arrogance and denial
thousands of gallons of gasoline spilling into a creek
One butane lighter in the hand of a ten year old boy.
One Hiroshima fireball.
One river of fire
thousands of charred trees
two blackened bodies writhing with a tiny bit of life
ten thousand fried fishes
one completely dead eighteen-year-old boy
three inconsolable mothers
three furious fathers
fifty thousand shell shocked citizens
one apologetic CEO
twelve lawyers dressed in Italian silk—
Two dead ten year old heroes
at the wrong place
at the right time to save
a city further catastrophe.
Miles of documents, briefs, testimonies,
and millions upon millions of dollars
for resource damages and liability claims.
a hundred dollars for an immature fish
a thousand for a mature one
two thousand for a tree
a million for the creek
75 million for two of the boys
an undisclosed amount
for the third.
How absurd it is
to price a child’s life.
or to think money
will assuage the sorrow.
How absurd it is to imagine
if the undisclosed amount was zero.
it for a moment.
Pinky Feria graduated from Huxley College in 1990 and worked at the Department of Ecology as a Hazardous Waste Inspector since that time, minus a few years when she went to New Mexico State University for a graduate degree in Creative Writing. She won First Prize in the Frank Waters Fiction Lectureship in 1997 and Second Prize in 2002. Her short story "A Splinter of Beautiful Wood," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.