Friday, August 26, 2011

Creative Responses to Awe(Terror?)-Inspiring Storms

We have dodged a bullet, as they say, down here at the tip of the U.S.  I spent the day marvelling that a category 3 hurricane was just to our east, and yet, our weather wasn't too terrible.  We had a few periods of intense, wind-driven rain, but we've had worse in thunderstorms.

I fear the rest of the East Coast will not be so lucky.  What a terrifying storm.

As a poet/writer/artist, I've always found these storms inspirational.  I know that I'm not the only one.  We had a local quilt show once, and after our disastrous hurricane season of 2005, the quilt show challenge was to create a quilt with hurricanes as theme.  We were given two swatches of material that we had to use, along with a variety of requirements (I seem to remember being required to use two buttons).

At the quilt show, I marvelled at the variety of responses.  Clearly our losses had not dampened our creativity.

I used to write more poems with hurricanes as the central image.  Lately, hurricanes aren't showing up in my poems as much.  Is that because I've used up all my ideas about them?  Have I exhausted their symbolic potential?  Or is it because I have other subjects on the brain?

For those of you wanting/needing a theological treatment, feel free to migrate to this post on my theology blog, where I wrestle with the question of praying for deliverance from hurricanes.

For those of you on the East Coast who aren't used to preparing for hurricanes, here's my advice for you:  should you lose water, you will need more water than you think you will.  You may be thinking of canned goods, but you probably have enough food, and besides, if you lose power, you'll need to eat all the stuff in the fridge and freezer.  No, you'll need water.  Fill the bathtub(s), and if you have doubt about the quality of your bathtub stopper, wrap it in plumber's tape.  Fill every container you've got.  If you lose water, conserve, conserve, conserve.  Flush only once or twice a day.  Let the kids and the males pee in the yard. 

For those of you saying, "Yuck, now she's really crossed the line with this talk of urinating on the lawn," let's turn our attention to poetry.  Here's a poem to remind you that even if you suffer in the hurricane aftermath, you may have happy memories in the end.  It appears in my new chapbook, I Stand Here Shredding Documents.

Land of the Lost

Several decades ago, we bought
backpacking equipment with an eye
towards future years and yeastier finances
when we could afford to hike for weeks.

Post-graduate jobs and family and houses swamped
those plans. We used to love
to sleep under the stars. Now we only see
the stars when a major storm
extinguishes the electricity.
The boots bought to protect
our feet as we traversed a continent
now shield our soles as we clear
away downed trees.

We eat our campstove-cooked
meals around a table lit with candles.
We eat the last of our defrosted
meats salvaged from our dripping freezer.
The children view this event as a treat, a holiday,
a taste of a world lost to them.
The girls pretend they’re pioneers on a prairie,
while their brother declares himself an Indian brave.

And our family, who had become so fragmented
that our only time to eat together was in the car,
we sit and eat and talk about nothing consequential.
With electronics silenced, we listen to the birds signal
their readiness for sleep. We watch
the sun sink towards the sea. The children,
who usually must be coerced to load the dishwasher,
fight over who gets to wash
the dishes in the grill-warmed water.


Hannah Stephenson said...

In the silence of electronics, it's amazing what we can hear.

Kathleen said...

Book arrived today!!