Thursday, August 31, 2017


NOT my house

Usually in news reports when folks are "devastated" it's hyperbole, as in "When Man U beat us in the 90th minute we were devastated," but this is different.  Friends, the devastation in Houston and surroundings is unspeakable. I can't even imagine it, although my anguish at losing a box of keepsakes to a tiny basement leak is still with me.  And because I can't imagine the vastness, I'm applying that feeling in another arena. 

What follows is metaphor, and not intended at all to make light of the real tragedy of #Harvey.


“We have a Houston problem,”
said my young daughter long ago,
but this poem is about a hurricane
with a boy's name.

It’s been brewing off the coast,
and now we have days
when it just keeps raining and raining--
no more tearing winds--
just the storm stalled and the water
pouring down and welling up
full of copperheads and alligators
and it’s so muddy
you can’t tell what’s about to bite,

welling and laking and bayouing
into the basement
where we keep our scrapbooks—
sodden, lost—
into the first floor
where we boil our pots
and feed our beasts—
washed away—
up to the second floor
where we make beds full of
drowned dreams.

Someone’s always evacuating.
One of us takes next to nothing,
knows it doesn’t matter.
One of us can barely swim
under the burdens of everything
she’s trying to rescue.
One sets sail on a seesaw.

The library seems a likely shelter,
but the books with titles like
“How to Rise Above It”
have sunk unreadable into
the beloved sediment
of hurricane, tropical storm,
topical depression.

Houston, we have a problem,
and duct tape will not be enough.

draft (c) HM 2017


  1. Oh, Heidi. I am so sorry to hear this. I can't even begin to imagine the confusion and raw emotions you must be feeling right now, surrounded by so much devastation and personal loss. Take care of yourself - and let others take care, too. xx

    1. Thank you, Kat, and I will take your kind empathy for what's really going on, but please know that we are safe and dry here in the DC metro area! That photo is not my house and this poem is a mere metaphor for a crazy new stage of parenting.

  2. I was reading in a literal sense, too, until I read your above comment. The devastation of this Houston flooding is beyond comprehension even though I had the same experience once. Floods take everything, soak up disgusting water, and spit out soggy debris. Recovery is long and riddled with mixed emotions. To me, sending my kids out into the world wasn't this difficult. They were ready to conquer the world, and I was at home cheering them on.

  3. Take it from me, you will survive this new stage of parenting, and, on the other side of it you will be so very pleased with the adults they have become!

    Your poem, though, captures so well what we're seeing on the news. I find these lines particularly frightening, and it’s so muddy
    you can’t tell what’s about to bite
    You didn't say "might bite," and that makes all the difference.

  4. Here's hoping you weather the parenting storm with ease. Your poem has so many powerful lines-- "where we make beds full of/ drowned dreams" and the lines Diane mentioned are two of my favorites.

  5. I remember how hard it was to send my children off into the world, but as Diane writes, it will get better & you will be proud to see your young adult blossom into beauty. In my youth I helped a family clean out their flooded home & do not forget it after all the years. There are creatures there to be wary of, among the mud & the family treasures. I think your poem shows the shouting anguish the hurricane victims are experiencing very beautifully.

  6. Hi Heidi! I especially was struck by "One of us can barely swim
    under the burdens of everything
    she’s trying to rescue.
    One sets sail on a seesaw." Hugs to you--

  7. "topical depression"

    Topics for depression: the flooding, the incessant rain, the urge to personify The Wrath of Harvey, the dangers that lay waiting to bite, those leaving us by any means possible...

    You captured so much so well.

  8. Wonderful word play and yet not exactly a playful poem. I was playing with the Houston, we have a problem line in my head this week. But, I couldn't get to the point you have here of perspective. I love the library book titles floating and your last line. This poem packs a punch...even if sailing is by sea saw. As always, I come here and say, wow.

  9. Heidi, I'm with you on several levels.

  10. You have captured so many moments and emotions (even if it is metaphorically) that we have been seeing on television this week. This speaks of the "unfathomness" of it all, especially from those of us so far away from the devastation.

  11. Isn't poetry wonderful in how you can read and write it on so many levels. Your poem captures what we have been seeing on the news. It's hard to fathom where to even begin picking up the pieces. I can relate to the parenting, too, but I do enjoy seeing my daughter soar as she enters this new stage.

  12. So many powerful lines, images, and emotions, Heidi. Copperheads and alligators... beds of drowned dreams... setting sail on a seesaw. Letting go, as with all things, will come one day at a time. Please remind me of this next year when my oldest is off to college!

  13. So many images with bite, that it did express what I felt watching the footage of Houston, and how I feel at the thought of my eldest leaving in three years. Leaving.

  14. Parenting–it's ongoing, hopefully the early years set the stage for when they begin to stretch their wings and take flight. Many vivid and deep metaphors here Heidi.

  15. Your poem affected life?! Yes, you can share your lovely poem and its great "after story" with the world... Submit now on


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