September 19th, 2020:
Follow creek through the weeping trees until
it narrows and you cross with ease. Keep mum
along the rivulet cascading still
through thicket of thorns you will not succumb.
Mimic posture of the young. Burrow through
aphid or adventurous. Spine you
a hole devoured in brush by something
shimmy like a snake, anticipating
attack, mistake. Not cognizant of what
you’re looking for. Upon your knees you’ll feel/
discern opening of a door — walnut,
the floor, pebbled, dirt. Curiosity will
sometimes hurt. Cage, of bark, its detainee
cries like the others trapped in weeping trees.
I write this poetry column tonight in someone else’s bed in suburbia — a place where there is power, wifi, air conditioning, hot water, food, ice, healthy air to breathe and a dry bed. None of these things I have in my own home tonight.
Since Hurricane Sally made landfall in Pensacola, my hometown, Wednesday I’ve been in shock. I fled a flooded house. I’ve lost so many socks and trees and mementos drowned in a flood whose foreboding was relentless waves of a bay outside my bedroom window.
Living in Florida, I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes. They can be the most frightening experiences in your life. Often though, they decide to go somewhere else — which is terrible for others of course, but for you all the preparations were for naught and you get some time off from school or work, and you feel grateful.
But for every near miss, there comes a day when you become the target of the storm. That definitely was the case for me this week with Hurricane Sally. I knew lots of people online who lived in Louisiana who were very scared and bracing themselves for a storm that seemed it was likely to go there. Then it came to me — to a lot of us here in Pensacola, who for whatever reason didn’t prepare as much this time.
The picture at the top of this column is taken from my patio which is surrounded normally by a lot of beautiful green grass. This was day after the hurricane when the waters that entered my house had receded to the point that my house was just surrounded by water like this.
I’m a writer that writes every day — even Christmas. It’s just what I do. It’s not always a finished poem a day, but I sit down and work on something a little or a lot every day. Since this hurricane hit, I have written one footnote for my novel and now this essay — not a poem at all.
The poem above I wrote last week, and it’s oddly about trees which have filled a lot of my breaking heart this week because I have lost four. Trees are my friends. A lot more than people. In “real life,” I have acquaintances, but I don’t have friends that I do things with much. I’m a loner. I go on walks; I find my solace in my yard and on long walks in the woods amidst my trees. They are so wise and majestic and weather so much. To see them die, it made me severely depressed.
I’m coming out of that, and I’m really glad. But I thought I would honor my fallen trees with a poem I wrote last week about trees that trap people in their trucks. I would fall for a thing like this definitely. The call of the needles and bark and crooked limbs cajoles me into their midst in the darkness of the forest all to often. I liked making trees kind of a sinister character that consume our souls.
I’m going to try to come back to life now. Thanks for always being here for me, online poetry community. My real life is utter chaos in this moment. It’s in pieces and putting it back together is grueling. Being here, I feel myself — the part that’s untouched by these realities of weather and place. I’m going to be myself again. I’m writing again, and tonight I think I’ll even start a poem. There are more trees to seduce me. There is much more life to live.