Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Molasses Flood in Boston

It was an unusually warm day
after days of winter freeze
nature’s invitation to come out and play,
do some shopping, mill around,

gossip with friends in downtown Boston
but then a loud pop and then another,
suddenly a flash flood of molasses
oozed from the large storage tank

with waves over fifteen feet high,
knocking buildings from foundations
burying paper boys by their stands,
along with horses, buggies, and automobiles.

All covered with the sweetener used in rum.
The horror of that moment logged down
in history, seared in memory
for witnesses of the tragedy.

Boston police, cadets from the USS
Nantucket, American Red Cross
and members of the Army
tried to help where they could

pulled survivors out of the sticky goo
cleaned up the streets searched
through rubble, tried to set the city
back to normal. Purity Distilling Co.

was blamed for the disaster,
overfilled their tank, made it with shoddy rivets.
The company argued it was the sudden change 

in temperature and not their fault.
Families of the deceased and the injured
were awarded judgments, 
and life went back to normal

but ninety years later,  

on hot summer nights, the smell 
of molasses still fills the air. 

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