Monday, October 15, 2018


A Hurricane & Its People

It happened just like this —

we had a hurricane

and then a flood

and both were termed

“100 year events”

which means no one

around now had ever

seen anything like this before —

not the road workers who would

have to rebuild all the roads

not the town officials who had to walk

in the muck and seem like they were officiating

none of the people standing there destitute

none of the woods where we lived had any idea either

it just parted with the waves, trees went away, and

the day and the night time roared

our bodies still went to sleep

our bodies still got up

the sun shone again

the river slowly but surely subsided

some houses were gone forever

hundreds of thousands of trees vanished

roads to get us places were gone

bicycles came out

you could walk but our woods neighbors

insisted on driving, and one time we came

home on our bicycles and caught a straight course

on what was once the road but it now was a river

bed of dry rock and rubble and mistreatment

and it seemed like every neighbor

at the same time was trying

to drive on this old road memory as

a river bed, with the flooded river receded

and it was the largest traffic jam we’d ever seen

and will probably ever see out here in the woods

since percentages say it won’t happen again until 100 years


it will take that long to get this image

out of my memory


And another time after that hurricane and flood

we were hiking along the river on our land

to have a look around, to see what was out of place

and we found a campsite tucked away

as if trying to hide

built there by neighborhood boys

old enough to build something nice out of stone

and old enough to ask permission to build it on our land

except they didn’t

they just took the land over

made their campsite

had their friends over

built a big fire and drank with

their friends and enjoyed themselves

when we found the campsite it looked

like something out of a King Arthur time

well placed stones in a ring and some built into

chairs like thrones — someone had put a great deal

of thought into the sacred site — it would take

savvy to move them off and put the stones away

this had to happen, we don’t want fires on our land

or drinking

or partying

we want the land as land

beautifully devoid of man

growing leaves, lichen, and solitude

but for the time being we knew the young men

needed a place for counsel, a place to prove themselves

as victors and survivors after the hurricane, and a party

now and then is good for this

so we let time pass, through winter

until spring, and then we spoke to

the young men’s mother, almost a knot

in shape, walk and disposition

she wanted nothing to do with our ideas

for our own land, she saw nothing wrong

with her children out of her house and freely

distributed to our land and their campsite while

regaining her own place in her own house

so things became unfortunate

we broke apart the campsite ourselves

dealt with the young men and all that ugly

further worse with the mother, never mind

the majority who live on our road, siding

against us and believing people should be

able to do as they wish

except of course when you wish to do it to them

overnight the world had become rotten

or to be kinder — confused

and still it snowed

apple trees blossomed

gardens grew

birds sang

we’re lucky   

Bob Arnold
Heaven Lake
Longhouse 2018

photograph ~

Flooded Green River at the
Eunice Williams Covered Bridge
Greenfield, MA.