The sky is scrubbed clean and blue today, and I’m at my favorite coffee shop writing (also drinking their coffee and using their electricity, both of which are hard to come by at my house… thanks, Koffee Kat!). Other than the power outage and a few downed trees, my neighborhood was mostly spared by Hurricane Irene, but my heart is breaking for friends in Southern VT, where historic covered bridges were washed away and whole villages are flooded or isolated by washed-out roads. Here’s hoping for brighter skies and rebuilding…
What the Storm Brought
Kate Messner © 2011
We watched Irene creep up the coast,
And so we knew
She was coming to steal things away.
Sunshine and almost-ripe tomatoes,
Open windows, electricity, and peace of mind.
She sucked at our riverbanks
Lapping greedy gulps of mud,
Gobbling asphalt like candy
Until the spans above the water
She swallowed them whole.
Except the old covered bridges
Weathered timbers aged like fine cheese.
She carried along on her waves
And savored them, splinter by rail.
But the storm brought something too
Something more than water in the basement,
Confetti showers of flying leaves,
And bouquets of pine needles
Arranged in the window screens.
She brought a neighbor to the door
“Just to make sure everything’s okay.”
And did I need him to clean out the gutters?
He was wearing one of those mesh water shoes;
The other foot was bare.
But he was smiling.
Ready to climb ladders in the wind
That way if we needed him.
She brought a chill to the sun room,
And that brought the girl,
Still in pajamas,
With a blanket and her book
to my side.
And just before she left for the night,
She brought a chess game by candlelight-
The boy won in a dozen moves,
And then built a toaster.
“Here,” he said. “Try it out.”
Battery-operated, it warmed our bread
On a delicate net of nichrome wires
Until it was lightly browned
With only a slight metallic aftertaste.
And nothing I’ve eaten in the dark
With waves pounding the beach
And wind raging in the trees
Has ever tasted so fine.
(Those lines above were for my poet friends. Here, now, for the engineers, is the toaster. It actually works pretty well.)