Our First Hurricane (The Story of a Relationship)

OUR FIRST HURRICANE
(The Story of a Storm and a Relationship)

BEFORE …
All hurricanes look the same.
Televised destruction.
Someone else’s roof blown away,
Homes and businesses flooded,
Floating cars and couches and precious possessions.
Trees, uprooted and upside down,
Leaning on someone else’s barn.
Those poor people!
Thank God that isn’t us.

DURING …
The first thing we notice is the complete loss of light.
Even the moon and stars are shuttered by thick clouds.
Light has been completely replaced by sound and vibration.
The house itself trembles.
Time and Space both shift in such blackness.
“Howling” is an insufficient adjective for the wind,
For even a howl begins and ends.
This scream of air seems to come from nowhere
And builds, and builds, and builds
Until you can no longer hold your breath
And have to accept it as background noise—
Accompaniment to the drumming of rain
And the cymbal crashes of cracking tree limbs.

Imagination is a handicap in the middle of a hurricane.
“Did you hear that?” “What just happened?”
“What will be left when this storm is over?”
Exhausted, we fall asleep.

AFTER …
Morning. Light returns.
We have survived.
Our home seems to be intact. No leaks are apparent.
Blinking with wonder and trepidation,
We walk from the bedroom to the kitchen.

The bay window is plastered with leaves.
The giant live oak has not budged,
But small branches and twigs and leaves—
Too fragile to hold on –
Cover our yard.

I automatically flick on the light switch,
Then remember: no power.
My husband has already lit the gas stove
(Thank you, gas stove!)
And is boiling water for coffee.
Some rituals survive.

We find it difficult to speak.
To come back from such terror requires a pause–
For the return of Time and Space—
A readjustment to this familiar world which will never again be exactly the same.

And suddenly I realize
These feelings are not new.
We know this chaos,
When our needs and fears
Clash and collide.
Our world shakes, and we try to hold on—
Sometimes separately,
Sometimes together—
Hoping we will weather the storm,
Desperate to recover what was lost and reclaim what we treasure.

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