After the storm an Arctic dawn
lifts frost-smoke from the swelling flood
as a lone doe, freighted with fawn,
trudges across the frozen mud.
Soon we will join the refugees:
woodchucks, skunks, and orchard mice
sharing mammalian miseries
in treelots sheathed with creaking ice.
Our house stands at the riverbank,
too low for dike or barricade
to fend this torrent off its flank.
As cracking ice pans cannonade,
I wait and watch. Disaster comes
with a last hour of normalcy:
in the dining room, chrysanthemums;
on the stereo, a symphony.
Then you arrive at noontime, drunk.
Why change your ways when rivers rise?
I see your watery pupils sunk
in the inward mire we both despise
as Mahlerís hammer-strokes of fate
resound, fortissimo, by threes:
the record snows, an April spate,
and your insidious disease.
2002, Alan Sullivan. Reprinted by
permission of the