Poem by Scarlett Pedersen


 

In the Wake of the Hurricane

I was taught to keep still
and quiet
when you first heard thunder.
Let it pass in silence,
Let God do His work.

With me and Jason, it was only rain.
We smoked Marlboro reds,
Even though they taste like mucus and asphalt,
And I put my feet on his dashboard because I knew it would piss him off,
And I felt comfortable
Cradled in that tension.

The first boom of thunder hit
And
we were fighting over whether taking off the seatbelt before a crash
Would still count as suicide
And it ended
When we agreed it was just giving fate a chance to decide.

We made it to town alive.
Every town in New Hampshire is the same:
First, a river
Now overflowing as the first arm of the hurricane was over us
It was lined with textile mills,
Where they dumped suffered bodies of workers
Into the water, along with the leftover dye
That still
To this day
Stains the pebbles on the bottom
The Nashaway people named themselves after
Before their land was taken.

On it, they build the row houses where I lived with my mother.
Our homes were boxes inside of boxes,
Shoved into the corner,
Where the city didn’t have to give a shit.

The hailstones hit,
and I walked into fights between my mother
And her men
Over who would clear the mold from the flooded basement
And I learned to love the smell of mildew
Over the sting of bleach
Because I couldn’t clean it up myself.

When they fought,
My mother was the Moon,
Tethered to a jealous orbit
And the Moon always faces the Earth,
But she never said it was because she was afraid to turn her back on him
When people started to ask about the craters he left in her face,
The Earth blamed the Moon for trying to raise his oceans…

My mother ended the worst fight with a scream,
It hit the air like a bullet and brought escape.
For once, the approaching police sirens would echo justice.

In the eye of the storm
There was peace
And it lingered
With an electricity of a hurricane
That was not over yet,
But when I saw the sun break,
I left too soon
And headed west to listen to trees fall after giving in to relief.
I counted the seconds between each thud
As miles between thunder and lightening
And when I thought I was a safe distance,
I built a new home
Only to look up and see the hailstones come again.

This time, I kept quiet.
I let thunder crash,
without yelling back
And when it passed
Without consequence or retaliation,
I stood silent in the stillness
That could only exist
In the wake of the hurricane.

 

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Scarlett Pedersen is a multi-racial black space alien performance poet who has landed in Olympia, WA and taken the Cascadia poetry scene in a quiet storm. She performs solo and with Old Growth Poetry Collective throughout the Pacific Northwest and was a member of the 2015 National Poetry Slam team from Olympia. http://www.scarlettpedersen.com

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer,photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows bothin the USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum,The Albright-Knox Art Gallery & The Allen Memorial Art Museum. Since 2006 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 230 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.