The Flood Notebooks
This is another summer of the Vanishing
A summer of the country turning from more loss. Switch off the TV, power down the computer, stop the conversation.
Everyone is tired of floods: Hannibal. Dubuque. Cedar Rapids. Iowa City. Cities stacked like a deck then spread out on a table, shuffled and reshuffled, the dealer bored. Joplin. St. Louis. Des Moines. A corn field over-run with water. Another ruined living room.
There was the other summer, three years ago, the summer of my mother calling from New Orleans. We are not leaving. This is our home.
for this the ship floats,
for this the man drowns
All in an easy rhythm, what Freud called Fort-Da. Loss and Recovery.
My toddler daughter watching me from her highchair while she drops a cracker, a small ball, a cup of water onto the floor. For me to retrieve and then return to her. For me to ensure the Not-Gone and the Never-Gone. The world, you see, is still standing. She’s learning object-permanence. My job is to show her that things don’t disappear.
Flood anchor. Flood fence. Flood gate. Flood mark. Flood tide.
On the blackboard.
On the black, black board you will write in white. You will write your fear.
Please rearrange the sentence:
1. We are not leaving. This is our home.
2. Our home we are not leaving.
3 Leaving our home we are not.
4. Not our home we are leaving.
5. Are we not leaving our home
Deluge. Drown. Engulf. Flush. Inundate. Overflow. Submerge. Overwhelm.
George Oppen: My language which proves I am not alone.