we sink half an inch every year
"soon, we'll be up to our ears
not a creature of fury, just of habit
the moon pulls her to churning, to crashing.
hotter water temper tantrums
rush the brine into our basements
soaking scrapbooks in salt
until it crystallizes faces
and yet i cannot blame the marsh
for reclaiming what was never ours
and taking even what was as penance.
but i refuse to condemn us
for shaping shorelines into lives
because things are so much clearer
when they turn with the tides.
we’ll grow gills in time,
we have to.
the ones who stay on land
could never handle shifting sands
don’t know we cling onto the inlet
with white-knuckled hands.
they never grew from buried roots,
seeds are just flotsam in the sea
so they’ll call Frank O’Toole crazy
when he can’t bring himself to leave.
This poem is a reaction to a clip used in a John Oliver segment on flooding (here it is for context: https://youtu.be/pf1t7cs9dkc?t=985 ). In it, he was quick to make fun of Frank O' Toole, a man from Broad Channel, New York who had his house destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and rebuilt it in the same spot, despite constant flooding, because he couldn't see himself in any other neighborhood. Growing up in a similarly close-knit (and similarly threatened) neighborhood fairly close to Broad Channel, I sympathized with his determination to stay right where he is. Shoutout to you, Frank.