The Flood of ’94 image and poem – Rebecca Cristante

Rebecca Cristante, Hunters, photograph, 2017

Rebecca Cristante

The fire ants were the first to know.
Grain by grain
they stacked their hills
five feet high.
Deep reds and brown.
Towering over my head.
But no one seemed to notice them.

We packed our belongings,
And moved them to high ground,
And of our few left over things,
only an old dusty sofa
turned on its side remained.

We hated that trailer,
And the cinder blocks
It rested upon.
Dust to dust drywall
And textured linoleum floor.
Nicotine stains on pinecone wallpaper,
And we were glad to let it go.
Bittersweet effigy,
because we knew we shouldn’t let it show

The flood waters being something new,
and none of us had ever seen
anything new.

A last meal was served
on the living room floor.
unwrapped from cellophane
packages and cut
from cans of tin.
A ray of sun from the open door
Leaked in
as dad poured the juice
left over from the salted meat
onto the carpet,
to seal our fate.
To invite the rushing waters
to come and
wash away this place.

I stood on the bridge
And watched her waters rise.
Looking down at a vortex
I feared that it was strong enough
To pull me in.
I knew she was strong enough
To break down the bridge
And take it all away.

But the flood never came.
And when we moved everything
back into that trailer
the stain from that can of salted meat
remained.

A mark in the doorway
of a time
When something almost changed.

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