Journalism In Verse

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Toast

in Environment/Hurricanes by

In the morning, Florence whirled, and spun
in her white gowns on the kitchen table

The reviews indicate her name will be
remembered in the annals of storms
She took center stage on the front page

But in a column to the right
covered in breakfast crumbs was also a piece
about looser monitoring and weakening rules,
about the rolling back of regulations

It’s too costly to be careful, too burdensome

In some future version of this earth
it seems to me this page might say it all

I think about this as I walk by the water’s edge

It was so clear! the survivors might muse

I think about it as I watch two heron
swoop in an elegant ballet over the churning bay

They couldn’t curb their appetites
even as their hunger fed their destruction

I think of it as I look at a butterfly
yellow as the sun perched on a flower

The other storms were poised in the wings

I think of it when I find an ancient snapping turtle
one-eyed, hideously handsome
a grizzled god by the side of the road

I want to apologize, I want to worship him,
his scarred shell, his pulsing pocked neck
the battles he’s clearly endured

He could be eighty, he could be two hundred
His species is forty million years old

Some things survived, they will say

Later, I listen to the news
as I prepare dinner and watch
hummingbirds at the feeder
Their tininess is mesmerizing

On the radio, a cellar master in France
reports that the impact of the evolution of
climate has been positive on the vineyards

What I’m hearing around me, says another winemaker
even from people older than eighty years
is that this is the best harvest they’ve ever had

Will they still drink to each other
in the future place, after our grand finale
I ask the little bird outside my window
Will you be there?

He answers with a flash of his throat
ruby red as a warning

Nero played his lyre as Rome burned
Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, cried a great princess

We, we fed the storms, and they danced for us
Maria, Helene, Olivia
All the while, the champagne flowed

 


READ MORE

Trump administration wants to make it easier to release methane into the air [The New York Times]
These are the staggering numbers behind Florence’s wrath [CNN]


Christine Kouwenhoven is a writer/artist residing in Baltimore, Maryland. She currently serves as the part time Development Director for the Cylburn Arboretum Association. She’s been a columnist for the Baltimore Fishbowl and has published numerous essays on parenting and mid-life for Grown & Flown and Club Mid. She’s also a poet with pieces appearing in Poetry Box, Silver Birch Press, City Paper, Oberon, American Literary Review, and MAW. Christine has an M.A. from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Image of Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station/NASA.

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