Sites of Earthly Removal
By E. SAFFRONIA DOWNING
The shovel digs into a matrix of loam, sandy soil, and yellow clay. The shovel digs a deep hole. It hits shale, composed of compressed mud– a soft sedimentary stone. A heap accrues: bits of brick, plastic particles, a bottle cap, concrete chunks, cat hair, and decomposing plants. The shovel digs into limestone bedrock.
A city composed of brick and limestone. Bricks of yellow clay full of carbonates that burn pink in the kiln. Sidewalks of limestone aggregate: Silurian skeletal sediment– the remains of ancient oceans.
Chicago was once full of holes– clay fields acres wide, quarries miles deep. Now, the holes are filled with rubble and debris– paved over in a history obscured by urban sprawl. That strip-mall is named Brickyard. That reservoir has dolomitic shores.