Basso continuo

What’s that hum? I sometimes ask
in the after-hours, when the dishes
have been put away and the shades
have all been pulled down.
It’s only the refrigerator, my husband
will say. Or It’s the heater.
When we sat in the dark for two nights
during the last hurricane, every violent
pass of wind through the pine trees
and the ancient gum was premonitory.
I barely slept for imagining the knot
of roots at the base of the largest tree
coming loose in the sodden ground,
then the sickening sound of limbs
crashing through the roof. Flashlights
barely pierced the ragged gloom.
Our neighbor offered use of the generator
in her garage. But the power came back on
just as she tossed the extension cord
over the fence. We never took
anything out of the freezer, and only
the ice cubes melted in the tray.
We went to bed after checking each room
for leaks and resetting the clocks
in each little appliance. They only blinked,
and did not tick. Climbing under the covers,
I heard the low note of a foghorn
in the distance; and closer, the less
audible beat of my pulse settling back
into its rhythm, after answering
to so many anxious cues to improvise.

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