Summer approaches and a subtropical storm named Alberto has already made landfall on the northeastern coast of the Gulf of Mexico soaking Florida and Alabama.
It was late August of last year that Harvey made landfall at Rockport, Texas and dumped heavy rains to its east. Lake Jackson had 24 inches as I recall but some of the best was yet to come as Houston’s 51 inches headed downstream in our direction. It has only been nine months. We know people in Lake Jackson who are still putting their lives and homes back in order.
This was what we saw when we went to visit a friend whose home had been flooded. Virtually everything they owned was piled in front of the house. But there were also about fifteen cars parked in the driveway. People from Chapelwood and The Center were there to do all they could to help with the cleanup.
There were a few souls unaffected by the storm. You see one of them here at Shy Pond Park enjoying the playground area covered with water from the local rains and the Brazos River drain. The latter made sure we got our share of Houston’s fifty-one inches of rain.
The ducks in Shy Pond enjoyed swimming right up to the picnic canopy where they could search for leftovers from pre-storm picnics.
At any rate, people recovered and put their lives together again. Much of it was accomplished with the help of friends. Remembering all that put me in a mood to write a poem.
When I was young, I used to try to write sonnets. I like the form in particular because it is so constraining. Writing one is much like solving a puzzle to get all the right rhymes and metrics and to have it come out saying something meaningful. Of course, it is the meaningful part that is the most difficult And the constraints somehow seem to drive you toward emotional revelations that might be of interest had actually been experienced. And most often, they have not. The result is usually quite bad.
The best thing about a sonnet is that it urges you to pick your words and pack your lines with meaning. You generally get about 100 to 115 words to say something that you felt important enough to try to capture, much like a photograph, for someone else to notice.
The down side of the form is that it can throw you under the old sonnet bus with some awful inversions and sing-song iambs. Nevertheless, here is my effort to capture something about the dreadful experience of Harvey and the exhilarating experience of the recovery.
We begin that journey with a morning passage down Oyster Creek Drive a week before the storm. It’s a bit of an introduction meant to tell the reader why we call this place south of town the City of Enchantment. It was a scene I saw often as I drove eastward to work toward Brazosport College on Oyster Creek Drive. It was truly enchanting to see the sun through the canopy of oaks. But why do it in prose when you have a sonnet at hand?
Harvey and the City of Enchantment
A stately oak-lined boulevard points east
where rising sun projects a shade of gold
across the pavement missing not the least
of us with tatted sunlight unforetold.
Yet south of here the heated gulf feels throes
of wrenching heat and stillness, leaden gray.
Then churns a storm from sultry Gulf Stream lows.
Enchanting sunlight’s muted day by day.
Soon wind and water slam destruction west,
and push the gulf tides up across the plain.
Yet wind and rain are not the only test.
There’s yet to come the Brazos River drain.
Depression wraps us in its invasive veil
But goodness, power and pluck will soon prevail.
Please grant me the “tatted sunlight unforetold.” You are permitted to understand tatted as in tattooed or tatted as in hand made lace. It was the latter type of tatter I had in mind, for that matter, but isn’t that one of the nice things about a poem? You have to bring in some of the meaning yourself.
Or maybe you just had to be there. Take a drive east on Oyster Creek from the Oak Drive area around 7 a.m. in the late spring or early summer to see the sun shining through the oaks and judge it for yourself. Do you see golden lace covering the whole landscape? Or do you see the shadows of the leaves and limbs tattooing a golden landscape with a network of oak forest designs?
And if that surpassing beauty was foretold, you read it here first. Have a safe, dry, calm hurricane season everyone.