Embrace by Janie StapletonPoecology
Issue 5

Iris Jamahl Dunkle

The 100-year Flood, 1986

              “But people are like that about natural disasters. Everyone believes that the history on any place
                 began the day they arrived.”
–Gaye LeBaron
Memory is as uncertain as islands
that rise in a flood—you don’t know what lurks
underneath. A silver boat can split this
seam of water: even gone muddy, gone
untold for so long. Disasters rise and stay
like high water marks in the unconscious
and each day after is checked against it.
What do we have to fear? The worst already
happened, couldn’t happen again.

But the river, like a muscular animal,
overtakes the banks, chews up asphalt, rises
more to fill stores and homes. Until
the whole Russian River Valley is filled
with her muddy, pulsing body
regardless of what history you remember.