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Explosives, once signaled, blast the indivisible
mountaintop to individual pieces.

One hundred meters of rock and subsoil
called overburden cast into the air

in an arc contoured by gravity, which wields
each piece like a gavel raised then brought down

onto a sounding block, a skull
of earth. The coal seam now exposed

no longer needs to be believed
to be there. It is right there. A bone

with the flesh rended from the side of it
like fabric. Like a swath of shirt

torn from the shoulders. A jagged, splintering ridge
raw in the open air. A shock of edges.

Its stream of black vanished by excavators,
their buckets careful not to let a single fragment slip

dominion, which must be held over everything
for it to work, tended to as a sheepdog

tends a flock. There cannot be any veering
off. No dawdling. Straying

was designed to show how swiftly
dominion leads back. I scoop a chunk of coal

from the dirt and hold its densely packed
hindsight and foresight. Pressurized time
rubbing its matte black sediment
onto my hands. Everything inside a mountain

has the right to be forgotten, but I have
the right to know, to access, make the coal seam

public. In a seaside restaurant in the Italian city
of Pescara, a man stabbed his brother

with a fish knife, drove its scallop-shaped blade
into his body. Their argument over money

had escalated. It was nonfatal. A decade later,
when the man claimed the news coverage of the incident

was still damaging his reputation
and he wanted it taken down, he sued

citing European privacy law, the right to be forgotten,
which allows citizens to request that old

or excessive information be scrubbed
from the internet. The court ruled in his favor,

saying news of the stabbing
was no longer in the public interest,

what the judges had decided
the public interest was. Every article was deleted

except for an article about their deletion.
And then, after that was removed, the sole article left

described the removal of the article
about deleting the original articles. You see,

don’t you? Even when the right to be forgotten
is granted, knowing keeps finding a way back inside.



Christopher Kondrich is the author of Valuing (Georgia), a winner of the National Poetry Series, and Contrapuntal (Free Verse). He is currently a visiting assistant professor of poetry at the College of the Holy Cross.




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