Hernan

The waters rose in the night, fast.
No nos dio tiempo de subir cosas, she tells me
and it’s true. Fue una perdida total para muchos.
In the photos, the refrigerator is listed over, had floated
into the centre of the kitchen and landed tilted back
against the counter, left gently reclined as the brown water
receded. Jesus. The mattress and the sofa they piled on top of it,
submerged.

We lost it all.

It’s okay. They are just things. My suegros built their new house up five feet,
knowing, of course, how it floods. There are no photos of their youngest
son, my husband, as a baby or a child. I sometimes try to imagine his face
as a newborn, the tiny dark baby that left his older sisters disappointed.
They wanted one like they saw on TV, soft and round
and light, but he was flaquito y morenito and they loved him anyways.

His grandmother left him the tiny house and he rebuilt it
like a piece of art, with salvaged wood and the good hands
of his friends, and brought two babies home, held me together
when I lost my oldest son.
How does that happen?
How does the water just rise that fast in the street?
Waist deep in an hour, trucks submerged. Everyone
looking for somewhere to sleep.

There have been so many floods. I know that mud too well,
how it coats everything with the realization that things
covered in mud are sometimes just things
and sometimes they’re less or more than just things, but always
they are impermanent. The only thing to do is wait for the water to subside

and accept what’s left. It helps to laugh, so if you need to drink
a little, why not. Everyone will help one another to rebuild
when it’s time, blessed with the fishermen’s secret
understanding that to build in an estuary is an act of acceptance
that we are just guests here, even if we forget it for a while.

N.M. Lindsay

28/08/20

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