What is Ceaseless or Drowning

in Hurricanes/U.S. by

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac, August 2012


In the photos on Facebook, the ground
appears heavy. Homes midstream of
an intersection; some road nearly a platform of mud
under a secure sun where water
has completed the streets, where clouds tuck
back into houses. A landscape of sunk sidewalks,
of rapid-fire rain clicking against windows
and wending, decaying as it finally settles. My sister
is trapped inside a condo, but that isn’t
what bothers. It’s not her, or the hurricane. It’s the hour,
the empty of looking, the clamor of mousing
around in images all night, feeding on details
of a hungry sky-mouth I can’t do anything about.
On the screen, plenty of symbols and scenes to remind
of the movement of water, the motor
of nature, and the driver: the wind. I did nothing
but refresh and click forward, refresh
on the news. I did nothing at all, just looked
at the subsoil of storm water from Isaac that will stream
into memory and multiple flashbacks of water
replacing horizon, water in all conversation. Isn’t it
obvious I’m easily dazzled by disaster, but
if it were my house going under, would I cower,
would I envelop myself in myself? Sure, some pack hope
in cardboard boxes; drive away. Some return matted,
nearly erased. We each pick an emotion, and listen
or argue as tragedy calls us by name. Though I fear
I’d become submerged in the ruin, I’d probably
be all cadence and muscle, all flutter-kick when faced
with a body of water outside my front door —
it’s the uncertainty that puts me in peril;
it is this that upends me.


Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry International, At Length, Beloit Poetry Journal, and as a Poem-a-Day for Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, a Black Earth Institute Fellowship.  First published in About Place Journal: The Future of Water.