The October 2019 issue of About Place Journal takes readers on a journey from north (truth) to south (courage) to east (rebirth) to west (mourning). I immediately connected with a poem found in the north: “Flint” by Kendra Preston Leonard.
It would be hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about Flint, Michigan at this point. In early 2014, the city (which is only about a forty-five-minute drive from my home and is home to a handful of my friends) was in the news for their water crisis. After changing water sources to save money, residents were left with lead-poisoned water, an on-going issue in the city and the state.
Leonard writes about this in “Flint,” the speaker asking readers to “Come and drink,” “this acid” and “the sweet sweet leaded water,” to “Drink / and drink / and drink/ down this styx.” She invites those with distance to “Find out what it is to stand you here,” “where the river / adds children to the cemetery.” This lessens the distance between watching the information on the news and leading readers to really considering the humans that have been harmed by water, something that’s necessary to live.
Leonard’s imagery is enjoyable to read, despite the gravity of the poem’s message. The piece reads smoothly, flowing like a river. “Flint” is a great place to start your journey into this issue of About Place.