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Gail Ylitalo

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The Landfill
By Gail Ylitalo
Thursday, September 11, 2003

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The landfill rested on what used to be a farm. Green fields bathed in the fragrance of honeysuckle in spring had been replaced with a thousand bits and pieces of used flotsam that had maintained man's often-fleeting comfort. A dilapidated wooden fence, the top loosely strung with barbed wire, made an almost comical attempt to ward off trespassers. Thorn bushes, knee-high weeds and the ever-hardy dandelions covered the few bare patches of land. Twisted tubes leaking a dusty, blue paste rested on pieces of fractured cardboard, discolored from the thrashing of last night's thunderstorm. The early morning air coughed up the damp vapors of wet newspapers, rotten wood, and green garbage bags just beginning to burp open.

Plump, white birds, called trash gulls by some, circled overhead as if studying the monstrous, loud trucks rumbling in at dawn's first light to spill their guts before rumbling back down the rutted, dirt road. Once the thick, black smoke cleared from these asthmatic idols, the birds swooped down again to peck at the latest plastic pile. Some would find bits of stiff, greenish bread and clumps of brown, moisture-laden vegetables. Even the fat, green flies seemed content with this newest addition to these mountains of gangrenous spoils.

Every fifteen minutes the drama was replayed as another sanitation truck huffed and puffed in. The grinding of the vehicle's gears sent the gulls into swift retreat. Their cries of nervous thrill blended with the constant ding, ding of machine. The earth shook and freed flimsy materials not yet crushed down into the swamp of decay. The air never cleared as dust and grit covered all that entered. Lines of slick, black muck crisscrossed the fossilized tire tracks to catch bits of wayward trash. These globs of slime formed a man-made spider's web.

All scents mingled here. Odors were born with each metallic burst that strewed the ground with leftovers. Scent after scent jockeyed for position with the ever-changing breeze. A wasteland veiling itself in pungent remains was the corpus delicti to all human lives. Rotten eggs could fill an unsuspecting nasal passage and throat as quickly as the aroma from the mounds of fermenting fruits and vegetables. Never content, the wind would scatter, reorganize, and then distort it all again.

Standing at the only entrance to the odious estate, one could almost imagine a city with buildings of paper and twisted metal built by homes of flaking, brownish cans still oozing part of what they once contained. Only the faded sign hanging above the tarnished gate, its letters chipped and peeling, offered a cruel insight into this battered world:


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Reviewed by Elaine Carey 9/12/2003
vivid descriptions, interesting build-up of revulsion toward a beautiful place, now spoiled

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