Dear Andrew Mackenzie, CEO

by Rachael Button

Brazil Dam Break Disaster Photos: Toxic Red Mud Buries Village In Mariana, Minas Gerais-International Business Times

The dam burst with an explosion,
breaking cement
–a pop so primal
that almost everyone in the city of Bento Rodrigues
knew to leave horses and houses
and scramble higher.

Can you imagine Mr. Mackenzie?

Can you picture their faces
as mud surged streets,
sweeping cars, drowning dogs,
ripping roofs,
flooding kitchens
with sludge too thick
to swim through?

Did they look back?
Did they whisper prayers
or say goodbye?

Rescue workers tended first to feet
heals and toes torn open,
by scraps of metal
by scorching asphalt.
They had no time for grabbing shoes
no time to pick their way
through the roots or rust.

Mr. Mackenzie,
tonight as you and I sleep in clean sheets
our heads propped on pillows–
Bento Rodrigues will gasp for breath, trying not to sink
in your mine’s sludge–
Bento Rodrigues will huddle on a gym floors, wearing clothes picked from donation piles.

Mr. Mackenzie,
I have lived in the shadow of a copper mine
near tailings
that housed heavy metals.

but I have never felt the whole world break
I have never run for my life on bloody feet

I suspect you haven’t either.

Who will pay for the restoration of their city,
their dirt, their rivers?
Who will dig through the rubble to unearth
their dead?

Did you think
of those still-missing
tonight during dinner?
Did you wonder how many bodies mud buried?

Did you face the mirror feeling responsible?
Did your voice quake when you tried to speak?

Or did you tighten your tie,
call your lawyer, and choose words wisely

because apologizing costs far too much.


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