Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Friday, November 14, 2008

Deluge





Ten years ago, the Pacific Northwest experienced something of a deluge. True, in almost every year we get a lot of rain in Fall, Winter, Spring, and even a chunk of summer, and even this year, there is some danger of flooding. But 1998-99 was extraordinary. Rain fell for three months straight, every day. Sure, the rain fell lightly on some of those days, but nonetheless: 90 days (give or take) of rain. And remember that "40 days and 40 nights" constitute the Biblical Deluge- standard.

I recently exhumed (from mud?) a poem about that chronic rainstorm:

Deluge

Pacific Northwest, Winter 1998-99

Rain for three straight months makes Noah
seem like the mayor of Palm Springs.
Our umbrellas look like sad mushrooms.
Our shoes have become buoys.

Sidewalks serve as creek-beds. Our
minds become mill-ponds. Occasionally
the sun smirks--yes, that's a personification,
but when everything is sodden, everything
gets personal. Worms float up, get stranded
on concrete, look like pink cursive from notes
we had planned to write in Spring.

Spring! What a far-off joke. From where
we sit, inside staring at three months of drizzle,
Spring is a tugboat-season captained by a lush,
adrift in rain-pocked Commencement Bay.
What if it never stopped raining? Someone
asked me that question. I didn't answer.


Hans Ostrom Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom
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