I don’t hear the trees snap, but feel their stretched limbs in the wind’s energy.
We shine flashlights into the dark, and where there had been yard, is now a tangled mass of leaves and sticks.
The lone palm tosses and bends, a wild dance to elemental music.
Where do hummingbirds and butterflies go, when the very air is alive with movement?
We pace the house as the wind gathers its breath.
We tuck valuables, passports, money, the wooden birds my father carved by hand, and clothes into backpacks.
Ready to go.
Go where, if the ocean waters come calling, is uncertain, but if we have to leave, we’re prepared.
We have conversations about surreal things, like boats coming through walls and what room is safest in case of trees breaking windows.
The power goes, and the absence of electronic noise amplifies the storm’s voice.
A roar like a distant train.
A howl through the windows like a far-off wolf.
A purring moan like the ocean’s own voice, calling in the dark.
I keep one hand on my son, one on my husband.
My anchors, and the bodies I’m prepared to cover with my own if the hurricane refuses to remain outside.
In a hurricane, as the wind rises, so do your thoughts.
You think of your loved ones, worrying far away.
You think of what you’ll grab first.
How you’ll get the dogs out if the water creeps beneath the door.
If a tree falls on the house.
If a boat from the marina next door breaks through the wall.
You think about the things you still want to do in life.
Contemplate how finite it all is.
How precious the feeling of one hand cradled in your husband’s calloused palm, and one curled around your sweet baby boy’s foot.
You think about how you’ve made promises to yourself to be a better listener; actually learn Spanish; help more people when you can.
You think about your son.
How incredibly precious, tiny, fragile, his bird-boned body, curly blonde head, and ocean-blue eyes seem in the face of such dangers.
You know without a doubt you’ll shield these two bodies with your own at any cost.
Whatever it takes, to keep them safe.
You fall asleep with a flashlight clutched in both hands, fully dressed, ready.
Late-night, early-dawn hurricane thoughts finally give way to sleep.
We awaken, surprised to find the walls still solid, and the wind retreating.
We take stock as daylight creeps through slate-gray storm clouds.
Leaves litter the ground like green confetti.
A fiesta of destruction across lawn and courtyard.
Neighbors appear, all hands work clearing debris, and the new, barer landscape reveals itself.
It feels a bit like being on a raft at sea. We know nothing of what’s happening in the larger world. Cut off from technology and the mainland, we can only hope the rest of the world still exists.
In the afternoon, we put the baby down for his nap and make love like survivors.
We pull each other close as skin and bone allow.
Daylight’s energy is an impossible contrast to the howling, uncertain darkness of hours before.
We hold each other in a silence full of love, hope, and life.
Sunset is a purple, orange, and pink confection. A sky full of apology for the violent night.
Stars poke pinpricks of light through the evening’s dark blanket.
The water lines are down, but we’re prepared.
I set buckets outside while the storm raged, collecting water as it appeared from every direction.
In candlelight’s warm glow I wash my hair in hurricane water.
Pour liquid storm over my head.
Lick my lips as water trickles down my face.
In the quiet, post-storm night, I take droplets of hurricane inside me.