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.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- Landscape, in the Aftermath of Flood
- A Carol
- Little Winter Song
- Because it is years since I last saw you
- Landscape, with Remnants of a Tale
- En Crépinette
- My mother turns 78 and texts
- [poem temporarily removed by author]
- [post temporarily removed by author]
- Dark Body
- Chalk Circle
- Private: To the unrepeatable life, the poet writes
- Tarot: False Spring
- Making Dinner, I Hear Rostropovich on the Radio
- Field Notes
- Road Trip, ca. 1980
- Gold Study
- Ghazal Par Amour
- White List
- Dear noisy stream gurgling in the distance,
- First, Blood
- Rock, Paper, Scissors
- Thread and Surface
- Diorama, with Mountain City and Fog
- Preparing the Balikbayan Box
- The Jewel in the Fruit
- Landscape, with Geese; and Later, Falling Snow
- Landscape, with Threads of Conversation
- First One, Then the Other
- To Silence
- Morning, Cape Town
- Empty Ghazal
- High in the hills, the dead
- Dear unseen one,
- Saturday Afternoon at the Y
- Dear Epictetus, this is to you attributed:
- How have I failed to notice until now
- Field Note
- Dear shadow,
3 Replies to “Landscape, in the Aftermath of Flood”
My prayers are with the survivors, their families and the victims. As a resident of New Orleans I can relate.
Yes, it’s heart-rending to see the scale of losses… May the coming year be kinder to us all.
Oh, I meant to add that this poem sets just the right tone of reverence and despair. Beautifully rendered.