Does Anybody Know Where the Flashlight Is?

October 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

So here she comes, The Storm Queen, ready to wreak havoc and yank us brutally closer to the day when insurance companies decide to fold their tents, leave chaos behind, and switch their money into a calm, safe field like book publishing. How about insuring books? Take out a policy to protect you against bad reviews, no reviews, your editor dropping dead or the publicity person on the payroll of your secret enemy.

I took a walk around the park, observing the autumn leaves before they were ripped away (the fallen ones already skittering), the cool, gray agitated air, the lines in the grocery stores. I bought bottled Stumptown coffee, an array of chocolate bars, almond butter for Charles, apples and unripe bananas, and came home to fritter my life away on the Internet.

Fritter. The staid cousin of Twitter and skitter. No relations to Mittens.

Wouldn’t an apple fritter be good right now? I was planning to bake an apple cake before the power goes out, but it’s seeming less and less likely that that will happen. Cod Ed has announced it may preemptively cut power in lower Manhatttan. That’s south of where I am, but always, my best beloveds, the darkness cometh.

The Storm

Against the stone breakwater,
Only an ominous lapping,
While the wind whines overhead,
Coming down from the mountain,
Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;
A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,
And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against
the lamp pole.

Where have the people gone?
There is one light on the mountain.

Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,
The waves not yet high, but even,
Coming closer and closer upon each other;
A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,
Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,
The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,
Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.

A time to go home!–
And a child’s dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,
A cat runs from the wind as we do,
Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,
Where the heavy door unlocks,
And our breath comes more easy,–
Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over
The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating
The walls, the slatted windows, driving
The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer
To their cards, their anisette.

We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.
We wait; we listen.
The storm lulls off, then redoubles,
Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,
Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,
Flattening the limber carnations.

A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,
Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.
The bulb goes on and off, weakly.
Water roars into the cistern.

We lie closer on the gritty pillow,
Breathing heavily, hoping–
For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,
The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,
The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,
And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.

Theodore Roethke


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