2.5 Months (A New Pair of Lungs Becomes Tired)

Dec 2 | boiling frog I am new to town waiting here at the bus stop wearing a respirator mask.

A gaggle of high school boys, Utah-born-and-bred, presumably, call out to me:

“What are you wearing that for?”

Don’t they know— (have their parents, teachers told them?)— that the air they breathe—so casually— is poison?

Dec 20 | smog lake city The bus I ride takes a high route through the Avenues. I can see the inversion before I taste it.

Step off the bus, nose wrinkles, wrap my scarf around my face. The acrid air—sneaky PM2.5—

slips in around tight-edged lips, lungs bursting through my chest. I wonder whether winter will always steal my breath.

Jan 14 | new landlord I ask my new landlord— a friendly old hippie, a native Utahn— what he thinks of the inversion.

“The inversion isn’t the problem.”

“The inversion is natural.”

“It’s the pollution making us all sick while the mine operators get rich.”

Jan 31 | generational trauma It’s nothing new for Utahns to tolerate environmental conditions harmful to their health, the health of their children.

The downwinders of Dixie— disproportionately women— endured thyroid and breast cancers, miscarriages, premature death. Sixty years ago,

the same commission charged with developing nuclear weapons was also responsible for ensuring public health: an atomic conflict of interest.

Those of us along the Front ask ourselves thus: will our legislators protect the profits of the polluters or the health and lungs, the strength and vigor of the people?

Feb 15 | memorandum of understanding If your tolerance stems from ignorance, it is our duty to educate. And if your complacency germinates apathy, it is our duty to agitate. Be forewarned: that if your greed proceeds remorselessly, we will organize.

Sarah Manley earned a BA in Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is active in a handful of local organizations and projects, most of which fit within the genres of educational access, feminist theory, and disability rights. She moved to Utah for the mountains. b. 1990

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