The news says: Flood! Recession! Flood! But you have to drive
across the city to see it & your ugly old basement is dry
& your guts mutter: Spring!
The same way your guts sometimes murmur at three a.m.,
the windows rattling with wind
& rain & elm branches as your love sleeps
through, his rattle-y nostrils almost
So you visit the river like a tourist, driving past for-lease storefronts
whose dust sighs: Smell my bum! But also past signs
whose neon letters beam: New! Blueberry pet facials
And the river? It's high enough that the tidy back yards
of the houses by the river are filled with ice
& the elms in the tidy back yards
of the houses by the river are encircled by ice.
And you can see how one tree has been uprooted
by ice, how it will slowly
tip into the river once the days heat up again.
But there are no sandbag dikes & no homeowners passing
antiques out of upper windows & maybe their basements burp
and slosh but maybe not, so you go home.
Once parked, you see the enormous clump of slush & ice
& sand, winter & river & weather systems gathering behind
the wheels of your car. You kick it & a hunk
drops, as satisfying as a tooth finally giving way, as a gout
of blood where the tooth was or a baby dropping
after a fall & a winter & a wet spring
If you leave the hunk there, you will have to back the car over it blind
& slushy, so you kick it over to the garage door & out
into the alley but not far enough: for days, every time you leave
the house it crunches under your wheels, turning back
into snow, into dirty water & wet sand
& as you drive under the expensive shoes twirling
from overhead wires, under the strange eyes
of men leaning from windows of old apartment blocks
you finally get it: Flood. Recession.
* * *
So I drug myself out of the house on Friday, sick and chilled but wanting to put a face to the all the flood coverage, to the idea that the neighbourhood of my childhood might be under water again.
I thought there might be a poem in it, a poem in the flooding river but also in my unwillingness to go, so I went.
And the river was frozen, except in patches next to the struts of the rusty BDI bridge. And the wind was bitterly cold on the middle of the rusty BDI bridge.
But I dutifully crossed the river and came back at about the same pace I'd use if it was summer and I was walking a BDI ice cream cone across the bridge.
When I got home, I fed my brain with wikiHows on How to Protect a Basement from Flooding and How to Prepare for Flooding and waited for the tickle that said that a poem was coming.
But there was nothing until I got in the car again and went to pick Aa up from the nice hippy lady that takes care of her on my writing days.
And then words and phrases started to come. So I wrote on the pages of my daytimer (because I'd forgotten my journal at home, of course...) at stoplights, cursing green lights for a change.
And since I was a little early, I pulled to a stop half-a-block from the nice hippy lady's front door and finished the poem off.
And the day was much easier to inhabit after that.