Friday, September 15, 2017

"Eighteen Ways of Looking at Hurricane Harvey" by Lauren McBride

Eighteen Ways of Looking at Hurricane Harvey
Lauren McBride
Rockport in the cat 4 bullseye
the wrath of Harvey's winds 
batter the Texas coastal bend

             five days of torrential rain            
Houston becoming
a city of islands

not Houston's first hurricane
yet Harvey floods many homes 
for the first time

water rising
homeless too

all day, all night
tornado warnings
where to shelter
in a flooded home

traffic map
every road

 where there's a will -
pizzas delivered
by kayak

record shattering 
                         52 inches of rain                           
flood news becoming tiresome
except for those 
caught in it

flight after flight canceled
waking to find 
both airports closed
day after day 
trying to reschedule

stranded in Houston
a week advances 

Harvey heading east
the sky brightens
sprinkling quietly

in a clearing sky
hurrying by

strange to be under curfew   
                           like living in                           
a disaster movie

water receding
a chance to drive out for groceries 
everywhere - drywall, carpet, 
belongings at the curb
furniture outside to dry
cars - hoods up, doors open

empty store shelves:
now a welcome sight
the supply trucks 
          I used to curse            
for clogging traffic 

Beaumont's pump stations flooding
"water, water everywhere
 and not a drop to drink"
           take cover Louisiana          
Harvey has his eye
set on you

after Harvey
the sound of rain

Poet’s Notes: To cover the full wrath of Hurricane Harvey would take a much longer poem. I have concentrated on coastal Texas. Harvey spread damage to central Texas and many other states before finally raining itself out in New England on Labor Day weekend, nine days after landfall. Catastrophically, Irma followed Harvey within weeks. 

The devastation from an unprecedented two Category 4 Atlantic hurricanes hitting the United States in one year will long be remembered. What I hope will also be remembered is the sense of community we shared as a nation as people countrywide mobilized to help.

Editor’s Note:  I had several poems about storms and hurricanes in the Songs of Eretz publishing queue that I accepted for publication long before the arrival of Harvey and Irma.  Although all of them were worthy of publication and some of them contained messages of hope, they all glorified the natural power, ferocity, and poetry of storms.  There was no way I could publish these poems in the aftermath of the recent devastating hurricanes.  “Too soon” would have been diplomatic--“poor taste” would have been closer to the mark.

In contrast, Lauren tastefully and respectfully captures the horror of Harvey's arrival with simple but compelling metaphors and stark, raw, yet poetic statements.  She also captures the hope-filled sadness of Harvey's departure, and her notes enhance the feeling that the disaster will eventually be overcome with help from the community at large.

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