At school they’re learning about precipitation.
           Every snowflake and raindrop forms around

a speck of dirt in the air. Did I know that?
            she asks walking up the hill. Did I know

when the snow melts, the dirt stays there? At night,
            can’t sleep again. The reflection

in the bathroom mirror shows a pale cloud.
            I drink and drink from the tap, unquenchably.

If we are ninety percent water,
            and each of those drops contains a speck of dirt,

how much dirt does it take? How much dirt
            begets dirt? How much water? How can

the rain, with its dirt tumbling to earth, be clean?
            Nothing is as it seems: I before E

except after C. And everything we
            know – dirt, water, bodies, Earth – starts with stars.


Wendy Chin-Tanner’s poems, essays, and interviews have appeared in numerous journals including The Mays Anthology of Oxford and Cambridge, The Saint Ann’s Review, and The Raintown Review. She is a founding editor at Kin Poetry Journal (wearekin.org), poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown, staff interviewer at Lantern Review, co-founder of A Wave Blue World (publisher of graphic novels) and an online sociology instructor at Cambridge University, UK. Wendy lives in Portland, Oregon.