Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ocean Storm

Ocean Storm

I was an inland girl,
only pretending to be coastal,
while my parents vacationed
on the coast.

Now an adult transplanted
to the eastern shore
I had little experience
with ocean things.

A storm just off Africa
became more of itself,
earned a name,
and crossed the Atlantic.

We listened to it come north,
following it on the radio
in our vacation house,
until we knew
we were in its path.

In the little cabin on the rocks,
we watched the sky go grey,
and the winds start,
and the neighbors pack and leave.

The radio reported
both the path of Hurricane Bob,
and the coup attempt
on Mikhail Gorbachev.

The clouds brought rain,
and crashing swells fell
ever higher on the rocks
with each passing hour.
We ate foods that wouldn't keep
once the power went out
as we knew it would.

The rain got heavier
and the wind picked up,
not just blowing, but pounding
against the tall windows
that faced the sea.

When the firefighters came
to ask us to leave,
to take shelter away from the shore,
it was already too late to go.
With limbs crashing to roads
and power lines down
it was safer to stay put.
One tried to argue,
but the other agreed with us.

And the wind kept hammering,
flexing the large windows
in their frames,
rattling everything
and us.

We took a radio and batteries,
canned food and water,
and went next door
to the old neighbor who hadn't left,
whose house was set
a little farther back,
and whose windows were smaller.

The six of us,
and three dogs and two cats,
breathed so much moisture into
the already-soaked air
that we had to keep wiping
the steam from the window
in order to see the waves crash.

The wind howled.
The surf surged.
The power of the storm
caused us to rethink
the meaning of the word

As the radio reported damages
we passed the time with stories
of other storms and adventures,
always with one eye
to the edge of the ocean
as it climbed upward
toward the small house.

Hours later Bob moved on
and the furious ocean
calmed as flat as a pond.
The storm-scrubbed air was so clear
we had to look on a map
to identify beacons
from lighthouses far, far away.

[This mostly-true story poem is my submission for this week's Totally Options Prompt, "evocative poetry." I had a lot of trouble because although a fair number of my poems tend toward the evocative, I got stumped when I tried to start with the emotion I wanted to evoke. In the end, I gave up because starting with naming the emotion just wasn't working for me. I'll have to figure out why later.]


tumblewords said...

Yes, it works! I see the storm - reminds me of another hurricane which I attended! The parallel between Bob and Mikhail is a special touch.

sister AE said...

Thanks, Tumblewords.
The radio broadcasts that day were a bit surreal, we listed to the Maine NPR station and heard (1) Hurricane Bob updates, (2) Gorbachev coup attempt updates, and (3) reports from the Maine Governor who was out of the state on a trip. Since I was not at home, the whole thing was quite disorienting, though I didn't put much of that aspect in this poem. Maybe I'll try another to tackle the dislocation part of that event...

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful - I could see the waves, taste the wet air. Very evocative. I love using poetry as a means to record moments from my life - what a singularly powerful moment you've shared with us!

sister AE said...

Thanks, TGR. In a poetry workshop I took half a lifetime ago, I learned how important it is to give the reader enough things he or she will recognize. If a personal poem has to many "inside jokes" then the impact is restricted to those who know the secret.

Whirling Dervish said...

Hi Sister AE-

Being a fellow transplant to the East Coast (and a very recent one at that!) this poem evoked my own feelings of awe at the weather- fear and admiration. Fabulous description.

It was nice "meeting" you on my blog- hope you decide to to a Place Name with us!


gautami tripathy said...

This I call is truly evocative. I could see the waves crashing, the storm brewing. I was there with you all through it.

Now I call your poem "awesome."

sister AE said...

Hello, WD. Thanks.

Thank you, Gautami.

Maria said...

Very nicely evoked....

Linda said...

I remember that hurricane. Luckily, we were far enough inland so it didn't affect us too much. Your poem is better than the newscasts! ~Linda

sister AE said...

Thanks, Maria.

Hello, Linda. I was happy to get home after that vacation and find our house safe and sound - it too is inland.

Anonymous said...

There is a virtue in plainness that is all-too-often disregarded by poets. Straining for metaphorical effect can often blur the intentions of the poem. This piece has a directness & narrative drive that keeps the reader engaged throughout & it gains from its relative lack of showy poetic devices.

sister AE said...

Thanks, Dick. There are days when I know which poems work and which don't, although many times I can't look in at my work constructively enough to tell WHY it is or isn't.

Janet said...

I thought your poem wove a lovely story, one that evoked stormy images.

sister AE said...

Thanks, Janet.