firewater

the firewater

by tony baldwin
1992


I.

Sometimes it is hinted at in whispers.

Breezes. The wide-eyed cattle who cling

side by side, flank to flank bawling at first and loudly

and then silent know.

It is the pressure. They feel it

When there is not yet a cloud

They smell it in the air

like the tell-tale smell of liquor on the breath.

They smell it and they know.

The breezes hint more strongly

the air becomes colder by degrees

until we, too, begin to huddle for warmth.

We smell it, too. We feel it

now. A drop…not to worry.

And this is the beginning of the flood.


II

It always starts slowly

Pitter patter….children scatter

to find shelter

leaving their games behind.

Helplessly herded and hushed.

Hide-and-seek no more.

Bawling, clinging to Mother's side

and searching in her eyes

which reflect only the grey approaching

and coldness.

Some would say we should have seen it coming

In their restlnessness.

And some would blame them.

Regardless, it comes.

Slowly.

The Firewater!


III

The winds whimpering winds to a wail

and alarming drops tear into, onto, over…

Pitter patter…doesn't matter

We tell ourselves

Surely it will pass.

but the gutters now are overflowing.

Now the windows are blurred

We fear and we can't reach out

to wipe them dry.

The gutters are overflowing

the firewater pushes, tears, shoves

Throwing up from the gutter here

and there a dead leaf. Soaked.

It begins to become apparent that our Mother

impermeable Nature is not always kind.

and the windows are blurred.

The windows are closed

to keep the storm out

to keep us from the storm's screams, or

perhaps we don't want the neighbors to

see us cowering like cattle

flank to flank.

but now, of course, we can't see

outside. The windows are bleary.

We want to hide and seek but

We can't see past the tearing rain.

We can't see the playground.

We want our games.


IV.

Perhaps it is then that we realize

Walls are useless, windows blinding

and a roof no protection.

We look again to Mother,

Searching her eyes to see

only the grey.

She struggles angrily with the storm.

Storm opposing storm

wind on wind

Jetstream and breath

rain opposing ice

searching her eyes to see

Only stormy reflections.

what now (?)

We look for a father.

Father lies in the grasp of the storm.

We fear and we can't reach out

We fear that he shall be driven by the wind and tearing rain

like so many leaves, soaked.

Driven until he lies like so many dead

Leaves in stagnant puddles

Tossed, broken, and soaked to lie

where the wind can no longer lift like leaves.

Soaked. Leaves. Left,

Mother has blown away. Impermeable.

The wind whispers now. Screaming

left to children.


V.

Orphaned, now the storm is over

Bawling calves wander restlessly

heads down finding stagnant reflections

in sterile puddles

searching for mothers and dry ground.

We breathe deeply, now the storm is gone.

We fill our lungs, and eyes.

We find a sterile world.

We breathe the sterile air

and shield our eyes from

stagnant reflections in sterile puddles.

We, homeless, search as well. Until

We find a father's charred body

Drowned,

But as the grey subsides

A reflection in the skies

Reminds us of the wondring eyes

of a father. A reflection

of a father. A reflection

of a father. A reflex…

I suppose it is a reflex.

No…a dance…of degrees.

By intense effort

slowly, clumsily, eagerly

by degress

by the call of some divine voice

(like Lazarus)

and as we watch in awe

Father comes forth.

Father regains life.

The stagnant water drains.

A new life begins.


copyright1992anthonybaldwin

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