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Monday, September 16, 2013


by Cally Conan-Davies

Flooding in Boulder, Colorado on Wednesday evening, September 11, 2013. Photo posted by brandish on Instagram @photogjake

(An Australian in Colorado relives . . .)

Bring your pillow, what comfort you can carry,
when you evacuate. You wont be home
any time soon.

Keep clear.

Revise your estimate. You will be caught
in a matter of minutes.
Pontoons and yachts are breaking from their moorings,
mangled hulls are hurtling downstream,
battering at the bridges.

Although we sunk our sandbags in the heart
of city streets, and braced against the waters,
the city’s pride— its cafes, party-barges—
powers down the river to destroy us.

The river is collecting all our junk,
rushing away with bathtubs and backyards,
broom-handles, buckets, pots and picnic benches.
Things become missiles when they’re in the flow.

Never cry for what can’t cry for you.

Bury the thought of what waters might unearth;
forget what you’ll recall—
stench, stains, stuff you never thought
would have to be replaced; and despite all
the waters everywhere, we must preserve
our water from the waters.

Find high ground because you cannot know
what lurks inside the waters – snakes, car doors, bodies
wrapped in tarps and blue pool-linings.

Below, backwater bubbles up through drains;
disease will come this way. Sever everything
you thought you knew of water, except for this:

when all revising up and down is done,
and levels finally marked, and mess is cleared,
and rivers shrink from us, and we look back
to praise the volunteers, think of the dead,
and honor the man who held a woman’s son
when the line holding her in his other hand went slack,

we’ll only know how far this flood has spread
when boy and man (see his eyes! how wild the water!)
drown again in the dream where he had caught her.

Cally Conan-Davies taught and practiced bibliotherapy in Melbourne, Australia before moving to the United States in 2012. Her poems have appeared, and are forthcoming, in Poetry, The New Criterion, The Hudson Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Raintown Review, The Sewanee Review and The Southwest Review, among others. She lives in both Colorado and Oregon.