In light of all the varied horrific weather events we’ve seen, here and abroad, in the recent past, I decided to dust off an older poem which (to me) captures a tiny slice of the experience one faces after the storm.
I first wrote this poem during the hurricane season of mid-1982, though the scenes depicted actually occurred in about 1974 or 75. Our area — Covington LA — had been hit by the fringes of a hurricane and an accompanying tornado had hurled large tree limbs through the roof and ceiling of a bedroom in my in-laws’ house.
After The Storm
By Jeffrey L. Salter
After the winds and the rain
(and the darkness all day into night),
after the edge of the storm had passed,
it was quiet.
Dawn brought bright sunshine,
apologizing for the tempest
like a recalcitrant lover.
The men began early
checking their own damages;
if the lines weren’t down, they’d call in.
Most would stay out all morning:
jumpsuits, overalls and hard hats
replacing business suits and briefcases.
They would joke and scratch, chew and spit,
and move their feet in the soaked grass.
In a smooth, but unpatterned manner,
like hungry grazing steers,
they’d reconnoiter the neighborhood
and digest all the damages.
Men with no storm damage stayed indoors,
for they’d not met the enemy
and were not bloodied.
Climbing over fallen trees and debris,
they milled through the neighborhood.
The owner of each would detail his damage
as if it were prize bull at state fair.
So there were smiles, jokes,
clucking and spitting
as they proudly swapped damage tales
among the other men
with whom they had not spoken
since the last hurricane.
1988 Northwest Louisiana Writers Conference Contest
(Second Place cash award)
In addition to receiving this award, my poem was selected for reading at the Red River Arts Festival [Shreveport] in either 1988 or 89.