The Sea After the Storm

Hurricane Ida

4 September 2021

By Philip Kuepper

I have walked to the sea this morn,
the morning after the storm.
It is a Lear sea,
restless, crashing,
against the impassive rocks,
a sea crashing its crystal cache,
against the rocks, unyielding.

It is a Trojan women sea,
rending its foam-white garment,
tearing at its greying hair,
blowing Medusa-like in the persisting wind.
They are female Lears,
Lear, a male Trojan woman.
Either way, they are
crucified on the drama
Fate wrote for them.

Having no choice, they play it to the hilt.
They are Bach pulling out all the stops.
Waves rise like the bristling backs of boars.
The sea grows heavy,
oily smooth. The rocks become
slippery with threat.
Seaweed combs out its snarled locks,
so unlike Pope’s irresistible one.

Yet the waves come,
a marching army of them,
row upon row of soldier
waves in lockstep,
piling themselves on the carnage
of the shore, sea-wrack, a wreck
of effluvia disgorged from the sea’s
unholy bed.

I turn away, then,
from what I know
will only continue.
I walk back, inland,
the sea well to my back.
Yet, is that wise, my back
facing so delinquent a sea,
a sea still packing winds sharp as knives?
Snap! The limb of an oak
has just been severed. I turn
to face the unrepentant sea.

(24 August 2021)

Editor’s note: This poem by Philip Kuepper was written after Tropical Storm Henri hit the shorelines of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Henri approached the corner of Connecticut where both Philip and I live (on different sides of the Mystic River) as a hurricane but slowed down to a Tropical Storm and slightly changed direction before it came in on our latitudes sparing the village of Mystic from larger damages.

A few days ago, the next incoming hurricane, Ida, spread devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and western parts of Connecticut, leaving hundred thousands of people without electricity and others without a home. More than 65 people have died (2 September), some in New York City when their basement apartments flooded. The eye of the storm went just south of Mystic, giving us thunder and lightning and rain, but once again we were spared serious damages.

In Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River overflowed as the remnants of Hurricane Ida swept through. The river crested at 16.35 feet (4.98 m), which is almost hitting the record for the highest crest for the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The record is from 1869 when it was 17 feet (5.18m).

Among the many streets and roads closed in Philadelphia was Kelly Drive, address for the famous Boathouse Row by the Schuylkill River. The devastation and damages to the rowing clubs there are not fully known when I write this. Though, Mike Brown, La Salle College High coach, told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “You could literally row a single on Kelly Drive.”

If you can, please pick a help organsation to make a donation to help those who have been affected by Hurricane Ida.

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