OBJECT/BODY OF WATER: Hurricane Sandy
1. The Dry
(thinking about Lucretius)
When I tried to count the rings the next day
I estimated one hundred years.
Numbers create order, and I sought precision:
40 feet tall
60 inches around at my chest’s height
20 inches in diameter.
The tree had been, for a century, the highest point in Short Beach,
O’ertopping the church steeple that started its ascent partway down the hill.
It came down in the dark.
I was sitting on the couch with the kids reading about Fangorn Forest.
Eald enta geworc.
We heard a sound
And a harsh clatter of wires yanked from shingles.
We stared into darkness, seeing nothing
Because there was nothing to see.
Olivia understood first what the faint glimmer and emptiness meant:
“The pine tree,” she said.
2. The Wet
(thinking about Longinus)
When the hurricane made landfall I went outside
To play a game of chance with overhead wires and windswirl.
I could not help myself.
I walked down the street to a granite ridge overlooking the water.
I stood there next to my neighbor, a man who makes his living building houses.
We watched as rows of waves like hump-backed rams
Shouldered their way, sloppy and frothing, onto shore.
We saw water splattering onto and through our neighbors’ homes,
Erupting high and foamy into white cloud-fragments,
Scattering sand and salt and wood and drywall fragments into the surf.
“Isn’t it beautiful?”
Is what he said to me.
Steve Mentz is Professor of English at St John's where he teaches Shakespeare, oceanic literature, and literary theory. He's written two scholarly books, including most recently *At the Bottom of Shakespeare's Ocean* (2009), edited two more academic volumes, and also published many articles on literary culture and the maritime environment. His works in progress, performance reviews, and swimming autobiography can be found on his blog, The Bookfish (www.stevementz.com)