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Hurricane Lily Wilts to a Category Two Before Striking Land

by Elizabeth Burk

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I didn't know that massive trees
could be toppled by a gust of wind,
a mere breeze down here
in bayou country

where storms are common,
water everywhere is a way of life,
and even the dead
are buried above ground.

I'd expected maybe
a few windows lost,
the tinkle of glass,
some roof tiles, leaving
empty spaces overhead,
easy to mend or to replace.

I didn't know the roots
of aging willows lie
planted in shallow earth
and reach out, grasping
for solid ground
beneath the water-soaked soil,

that in the wake of this
seemingly minor storm
the landscape would be strewn
with giants, upended,
naked roots clawing the sky.

I didn't know that a man
like you, so entrenched
in your solitary ways,
your branches spread
across the earth,
would fall apart so swiftly
when I left.

First Published in
LOUISIANA REVIEW
Spring 2007, Volume 5, Page 47-48
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