Landscape, in the Aftermath of Flood

This is the way it often is, after calamity:
sudden gust of quiet, or spool of open air;

a few hundred feet of nothing. Nothing moving,
nothing doing, gray stasis of between-one-thing-

and-another. Until: closer view of the aftermath—
human figures daubed with mud, pinned under the ruins.

Did you not move quietly? Didn’t you take care not
to rouse the gods, or the duendes, or the anitos?

When you passed a large outcropping of rock,
didn’t you keep your head down? Didn’t you stop

short of teasing the makahiya into folding up its
leaflets? Didn’t you whisper, pagpaumanhin po ninyo ako?

Pray that the river does not rise again, does not reach
its muddy arms to take you in your sleep. Whole

cities have just gone under. When the wind bears down,
every frond bristles with the recent memory of voices

calling children from supper and to bed, singing
simple lullabies, saying Yes, tomorrow.

It’s all you can do to keep from giving yourself to
oblivion. If not for taking the living in your arms.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series NavigationA Carol →

3 Comments


  1. My prayers are with the survivors, their families and the victims. As a resident of New Orleans I can relate.

    Reply

  2. Oh, I meant to add that this poem sets just the right tone of reverence and despair. Beautifully rendered.

    Reply

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