Aftermath – #poetry

Aftermath

leaning birches

I.

Now, walk up the road, to see what’s what.

And yes,
Everything does look like it’s had the shit torn out of it.

Because it has.

Five major winter storms in four weeks.
Two of them coming
after the official start of spring…

I remind myself, this is New England.
These things can happen.
Especially in the so-called, alleged spring.

There are plenty of pictures and stories
to prove it.
A whole forest leveled overnight is nothing
to take as a harbinger of
The End.
It happens more often than you’d think.
More often than we
remember, short
memories
that
we

have.

 

fallen snapped off trees

II.

Winter was kind to us
Until March.

Then came the surprise fury, the dumping of meters of snow.
Refreshing our memories of an Earth we ignore, till
she demands our full attention
for a day or two.
The takedown of trees and lines and power, phone and cable television,
essentially
all the ballast of our modern lives.

The chain snapped free of the anchor, just as the wind picked up.

Any chance of us getting off easy this year
Was gone by the third storm.

The only consolation being that the snow covered up the damage it had done.

No more.

No, here we all are
in our dead, twisted, contortions of devastation lite,

Tired,
so
tired, what with everything
that’s going
on.

But still knowing full well that we got off easy,
considering
that a lot of those trees could’ve fallen the other way, and hurt us
much worse than they did.

I, for one, have a hard time saying “snow storm” without preceding the noun with an expletive adjective.

Fucking snow.
Fucking storms.
Wrecking our recollections of that vibrant autumn that got a late start,
but still rewarded us with so
much
color…
Canceling out the promise of Spring – right around the corner, we’d
hoped – after such
a bitter
cold
snappy
couple of months…
Dragging our thoughts from anticipation
to immediate exigency,
our cabin-fevered minds kicking
and screaming like kids who can’t get on
the ride they love most
because they got there 10 minutes after the gate closed.

True, clearing fallen limbs and filling out insurance forms
is a far cry from not getting to ride the teacups,
but still.
Bruises, lacerations, pulled muscles, and a monster
burn pile stacked on the far side of the yard
have a way of affecting the mind
as well.

Eh, never mind.

We all know this is the price we pay for such beauty, as we reckon
with nature’s less welcome interruptions.

We’re all adults here.

Still,

I’m glad that shit’s over.

Road-killed frog

III.

And up the road I go. No heavy jacket needed today. But then again,
not a light windbreaker, either.
We’re at that point where the roads are wide enough to comfortably walk again
without getting run over,
which means you warm up quickly — long strides, pumping arms — and then
half a mile later, you’re stripping off
layers.

Chill wind on my neck — Should I have worn a scarf?
Hot gusts rising from my torso as I move, mixing with the cold.
No.
I should not have. I’ll be fine.

But never mind me.
Look around.

The forest… the woods… Oh…

Splintered, frayed, stripped, bent, flayed, snapped, crushed, battered, lost, dwarfed, amputated, ugly.

Gone.

Amid this musty, dusty stack of kindling we used to call the woods, the sound of spring peepers echoes,
their guttural chirps filling the enlargened air that used to be crowded by
living, growing
tree trunks.

Frayed, snapped-off toothpicks of once-towering Ash, Hickory, Maple, Pine.
The frogsong rings free, where it used to bounce off all those hard spaces.
They seem now both
fewer
and more
than I remember in past years.

And in the vernal pools, growing trees look all the more precarious,
their days numbered
knowing what we know about trees rooted in soggy ground
when the winds pick up.
Vulnerable as the road-killed peeping frogs who just wanted to cross
the asphalt ribbon of death
to do what they do in the spring season.

The warning signs for drivers to slow down seem no more effective
than our expectations
of what should happen, weather-wise, in March.

Against the backdrop of pattern-defying weather,
I turn the corner of the road.

Past the burned-out shell of a house that once stood here.
Car coming….
Step off the road and in
to what used to be the widemouthed entry of their driveway. Look around – look around.

Someone
has been here with the mower.

It wasn’t this clear last fall.

Maybe the original owner finally wants to sell the place.
Or
the town has complained about the mess.
Or
something new will be built on that spot before long.

I should see piles of deer droppings.
But no.

broken-down garage

IV.

A rustle behind me.
I turn and wave to the neighbors across the way
watching me
from their darkened screened-in back porch.
If they wave back, I can’t tell.
Too dark on the inside.

Seems they’re keeping an eye on this place, perhaps to buy it.
Perhaps
to figure out what the heck is going on over there with all the brush and small trees disappearing from the lot between
when they leave for work and when they return home in the evening.

Each day, a little bit more is gone, as though
the shoemaker’s elves got bored
making shoes
and decided to clear underbrush instead.

Now step off
the road and onto a path leading back into the conservation lands. Through woods blasted lower than
they were last time I was here.
Falling branches,
felled trunks,
logs blocking the path,
some of them sawed off,
others broken.

Someone has put in a yurt on their field, with a small shed beside…
it looks like maybe a chicken coop on wheels…?

Amid the storms’ devastation, new construction is like a stable armistice, bounding
the arboreal battlefield
just beyond the rock walls,
spelling out how we still go on, no matter what.

A yurt’s easier to put up than a house.
Quicker, cheaper, in some ways
just as good.

And you can do it.
So, some do.

fallen trees

V.

Clouds are coming in.

I’ll have no shelter till I get back home.

Turn, put the path beneath my feet
and the deadfall
behind me.

Return to the road.

Turn back towards my house.

Whatever has happened here in the last month has happened many times before, and it will keep on happening.

Keep walking.

Accept what comes next.

 

April 8, 14, 15 2018

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About Kay Lorraine

I'm a writer, poet, and artist... a technologist and a thinker, independently living my life.
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