Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 27, 2011

Poem Written in 1988 About Hurricane Florence

I wrote this after driving directly into the hurricane. I’ll leave it to readers to interpret.

ONE WAY

Driving out of dusk
into the storm’s face,
Interstate ten to New Orleans sizzles
an intermittent watery sweep,
brushing brief blindness across my path:
ten miles of causeway lacing the state
across Lake Ponchartrain.

Hurricane Florence drives north,
I, south, to meet her–
my car shaking from speed and crosswinds.
That hazy crescent of narrowing light ahead,
the city caught between gulf, lake,
and spinning winds:
my destination.

Headlights are feeble
facing the rush of blowing darkness–
groping for solid pavement
barely ahead of tentative wheels.

No one follows closely enough to see;
and, those far ahead,
where the bridge stretches sharply up,
then down,
seem to lift on the wind
and drop–
as off the edge of a flat earth.

Solid battlements of concrete
flash an unbroken reminders on each side:
no turns.
Perspective fools the eyes;
all guiding lines constrict
to a vanishing point.

As the road begins to rise,
reaching toward the place where others disappeared,
logic and memory conflict with the primal grip
that holds my breath
and locks the muscle of my jaw.
But: NO STOPPING, the signs all say,
No choices;
this long span is a one-way road.

Tom Drinkard
Published in Cotton Boll/Atlanta Review

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