Caroline Brooks DuBois is the author of The Places We Sleep, a middle grade novel in verse (Holiday House, August 2020). She received a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, under the scholarship of Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Tate, among other greats in the poetry world. DuBois writes both poetry and prose and a mixture of the two. DuBois currently works as a literacy instructional coach and lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her singer-song writer husband, with whom she’s co-written songs, and their two children.
Wherever you are, I hope you remembered your power greens,
raisins, the cilantro and Roma tomatoes, before the tornado
snatched your list from your purse or car, your counter,
your table, and sent it sailing in the dark with bricks and shingles,
gutters and stop signs, that flung insulation into power lines,
that whipped a trampoline and pool into a tree, that tumbled
houses like toys, that left me helpless, not knowing where
to begin to help neighbors and friends until someone mumbled,
“Focus on one square foot at a time, pick up glass, stack shards,
don’t scan the whole scene, the devastation that is Holly Street—
the historic firehouse roofless, the church’s steeple in the street.
I could purchase the items on your list, deliver them to your door.
Would you regard me in that dazed way we’re all staring at one another?
And what about your door? Is it even there? Would I knock on air?
Is it slung wide? Or piled atop the growing mountain of concrete
and wood, rubble and pieces of house lining curbs, just a block
from my home, where only one of our flower pots cracked,
two lightbulbs strung on our porch smashed. Our dogwood
with most its limbs intact clutched your list in its branches—
almost festive, celebratory. Your list from Monday that by Tuesday
would have shifted to utility gloves, tarps and Duct tape, to rakes
and two by fours, to nails, and a new broom—things you didn’t know
you’d need when making dinner was all you had in mind,
not how the ceiling might rip from your bedroom, revealing sky,
a wall or porch collapse, your books, clothes blow away, how a layer
of sticks and dirt would cover everything that remains, that you’d have no roof
under which to make a nourishing salad of power greens.