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The growing opiate epidemic in Massachusetts is taking place in urban areas like Quincy, and rural places like Conway. Stories of who is using, what they stand to lose, and sometimes what they leave behind are showing up not only in support groups or reporter pieces, but in the work of of artists and writers.
Poet Amy Dryansky lives in a beautiful hilly western Massachusetts farm town — not far from five well-known colleges and I-91, where drugs travel frequently between New York and Vermont.
She walks a lot, she drives a lot. She sees the same places over and over again — like this one house on a corner.
Fixed, Blue, Gone
When the house began to empty
it was almost spring.
Beneath the leafless oak, blue
lilies pushed through
patches of snow, surrounded
an empty pizza box
guarding the lawn
like a tied-out, barking dog.
For a while, she was fixing
up the place: little statues, a blue
wading pool for the kids.
There was a car, she got them to school
pretty much on time.
Then that was gone, too,
and some nights red, white and blue
cruiser lights washed up against the house.
You knew they were fighting.
You could hear it, you could
practically see through gaps in the siding
they never managed to fix, imagine
in winter, heat from the fire
rushing back out, somebody’s fingers
possibly blue with cold.
March, no smoke in the chimney,
just an empty, pounded down spot
and frayed blue tarp
where cordwood used to be.
Then she was in jail, and all around
the house tall grass, blown
lilacs, wild rose swallowing
junked lawnmowers and tractors
he used to fix for a little cash,
along with the weed he sold
he said, to keep himself in smoke.
April, I gave him and the oldest boy
a ride, both of them junkie twitching,
sweating in the back seat—
his boy and my girl the same age—
and I made small talk.
High summer and the house gone
dark, cardboard for windows,
wheelbarrow heaped with dirt, shovel
set against it, like someone thought
they were coming right back.
-- Amy Dryansky
This segment aired on August 20, 2015.
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