- POETRY -

HURRICANE WATCH

 

Shamala Gallagher 

ISSUE TEN | SPRING 2018

The slink of shirred clouds,

blue-twitching. It is not here yet.

 

The slink of radar:

watching families.

 

Adam likes the screens

open. I close them

 

but like them open

too. Sand and her people

 

on the steps.

 

If this is all a life is, watching,

 

childless, each person childless

of her own certainty—

 

each person barren of

certainty. Each man too,

 

each neighbor: so that

when you look across

 

the street the neighbors

are your own doubt.

 

No. No.
 

You are a spine of yellow

tooth-rose in the rain,

 

spine of yellow

flower, sea-spine,

 

brain that stars open, shines open,

 

forth-flower: I say this

 

to myself and to

 

Marquavius. He’s with a friend

 

on bicycles, one wheel that matches

his forest-green mountain bike

 

and one pink-and-white

wheel from a girls’ bike. He’s in our carport

 

pumping at the wheel. Marquavius.


 

One month I called Shruti and said

Marquavius is always here.

 

He pets the sweet cat Leela, the large

silk-silver and ink-heat one. Marquavius

 

craning his head to Leela: I want

 

a cat like Leela. Marquavius at the door

wants Adam.


 

I call Shruti: Marquavius always

wants Adam.

 

What do we do? What do we do?


 

I will not call myself white

but white guilt, white guilt

 

plasters my face as the storm

 

stirs in its pit. My in-laws

 

live in Florida, says Reg,

and they won’t

 

leave. But it’s time to

leave Florida. The South

 

of Florida is sinking... and the storms

 

are three times as large,

says Reg. The storms are growing.

On Herman Street Marquavius

and his friends are

 

inside. The street is black-shine

 

and the trees green-whistle. Adam

is at work because he provides

 

an essential

service. Late morning, I’m alone

 

on Herman Street.

 

The storms are growing

and quick-silk vapor

 

on Herman Street flicks

along the alleys


 

where Jean’s cat cases

the street, the kittens & mothers

 

long carted away

in Adam’s county truck to the shelter.

 

*


 

I can still do more

than I have done

 

I realize in my thirties

once the Lexapro

 

has taken root

in my blood, blood-root

trickster, insinuated

into my bloodstream

so that it is

necessary: so that despair follows

 

in its absence:


 

& did I invent

my own despair

 

from sheer wanting to say

 

like you I

have suffered. It turns out

 

that in late summer

of the end times

 

the air cools early,

 

brings its balm

to the sweat-soaked

fear of summer

early. In the yard

 

the moon starts to

double. I can’t

 

tell: by the time

I look away

 

I can’t tell

what I’ve invented.

Shamala Gallagher is an Indian / Irish American poet and essayist currently based in Athens, GA. Her recent work has appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Black Warrior Review, The Rumpus, The Offing, and Bettering American Poetry vol. 2

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