The Corner

Culture

Poetry

DISASTER RELIEF

Three cuts I’ve gotten from the box knife’s blade,

and needlessly I wonder — will they heal?

as we remove debris for those who stayed.

My last guess in the word game is “unreal,”

for this is not the way my thinking goes,

and these are not the ruins of my nation,

with certainty — this rubble from the blows

of wind, these sheetrock walls, this insulation

so sodden still, the flood soaks through my shoes.

 

Again, I stanch these cuts’ re-welling blood.

My new, shamanic name should be “She-Whose-

Feet-Are-Wetted-with-the-Tempest’s-Flood.”

 

I’m punching through, I’m kicking at the plaster.

My crewmen pity me, and interfere –

our common hope, to mitigate disaster.

No tear they’ll see, no outcry will they hear.

 

These walls of heavy paper we must gut

and haul away, with dust mask on, and glove

to insulate our fingers as they cut

a horizontal channel just above

my chest height, for removal — some are stained

by nursery murals, adding to the anguish

that not one wall evaded and remained.

Their hues, already muted, further languish.

 

Like skeletons of steel, the studs are shown

while kneeling women, wielding power drills,

evacuate the screws. Each sterling bone,

as we look out beneath our ball caps’ bills,

gleams glamorously. Flecks of silver glitter

cover me, from some child’s plaything burst

when Harvey made his landfall, drunk and bitter.

 

I think the guardian cherubim of glamour

must have a sense of humor, so to dress

me now in tinsel, gaudy and yet tender.

 

My demolition team persists to hammer

and hustle through the hallways, through the mess.

The angels sprinkle them, as well, with splendor.

Jennifer Reeser is the author of six books. Her most recent poetry collection is Indigenous (Able Muse Press, 2018).

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