Rowing through air

That first fall here, arriving on the heels
of hurricane Earl: dorms vacated, the semester’s

start postponed, students moved to local hotels;
storefront windows boarded up along the coast—

I had little to feed to any flood should it ask
for some gift or trade for passage. I remembered

one of the scholars in my Fulbright orientation
confessing to her own naivete: arriving late

and navigating the subway, pushing with two
hands against a turnstile that would not budge.

The train station attendant informing her
Miss, you need to have a token; her panicked

reply, I don’t have any souvenirs. Back
in my hometown, every year, a neighborhood

went underwater with each storm. But always,
the residents returned to dig through silt

for furniture, pianos, gas stoves,
hot water bottles. Even the mangy dogs

limped back, sniffing for the posts
which they’d been tethered to. All

the lost boys and girls in the world are still
rowing the air above our heads, looking for

that shimmering window obscured under a net-
work of maps. And finally I understand

the meaning of that lost shadow: how
having one is proof of your ability

to affix yourself to place, to let the sun
impale your body upon the cork board of time.

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