Hurricane Season

The prompt from #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is to write about rain. Now the Irish have as many words to express the quality and character of rainfall, just as Inuits are alleged to have about snow. Yet again I am being tossed back into memory of my youth. I experienced one of those batten down the hatches Northeasters when visiting with my aunt at the shore. When we get storms in from the southwest I have a flicker of recognition. And those kinds of storms, dramatic as they are on the outside, can be quite cozy when you are safe indoors by a fire. But it was the one genuine hurricane I can say I experienced that became the subject for the Poetry Daily. Hurricane Agnes was the first storm of the hurricane season in June 1972. It was more savage than usual for that early in the summer. It was even more brutal once it moved inland from the Chesapeake Bay and whirled its way up the path of the the Susquehanna River.

Agnes, 1972

It's not all palm trees bent double.
A hurricane can move inland
and make for plenty more trouble.
All night we slept on the 'Y' floor,
waiting to see if the dam would hold.
The river rose and rose.
Every road, in and out, was closed,
bridges washed out.
So we waited. I was young enough
to sleep through that night.
The older ones sat up, drinking coffee,
without much talk.

Next day it turns out our town fared
better than most, was mostly okay.
The rain stopped. The dam held,
but it was cut pretty fine.
Some cellars filled.
The bridge was still pretty sound.

A few days later some of us teens
helped scrape up the mud
that reeked of rot and sewer in the heat
off someone's dining room floor
upriver in Shickshinny.
The whole town looked condemned.
We skipped and leaped over
the jagged teeth of the remains
of bridge over still angry,
churning water from a creek.
But then again maybe it was rail ties
crossing a street.
The Susquehanna stayed high
for weeks and weeks.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by John Middelkoop on Unsplash

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