In The Desert Their Rust
26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico the US government built the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a facility designed to store transuranic nuclear waste, a toxic byproduct of the testing and manufacture of nuclear weapons, into the indefinite future. In an attempt to prevent future peoples from breaking open the facility within the next 10,000 years, the WIPP has invested substantial research into the development of a system of visual and written warnings intended to transcend cultural and historical barriers to understanding. Their written warning is sampled here.
a message [We buried what we wrought in steel, we packed
our garbage in salt] Here was repulsive ludicrous sky
a wide purple spin Squat brush heady
under my thumb [sheer constant earth beneath vagrant earth].
This place was a message [part of a system
of messages] I walk here slow in the stones
see them in them the shadow of the rock In winter warm
my back Rattle my toes in the round
whisper of sand Horrible little faces watching us
run smooth lives Raid the rock look down
at the battered strange land where the earth is a word pushing
Move the ground
walks our bodies [If there is a universal
language of forms it would begin at the body some total