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Nancy Cook

CropNancyNancy Cook runs “The Witness Project,” a program of free community writing workshops in Minneapolis to enable creative work by underrepresented voices. She also serves as flash fiction editor for Kallisto Gaia Press. In 2019 she was the Fermanaugh & Omagh International Artist-in-Residence in Northern Ireland where she worked with people affected by the sectarian conflict known as “The Troubles.” Some of her newest work can be found in The Tangerine, Existere, and the Michigan Quarterly Review.

Waiting for the Tsunami

Mid-dive, mouthpiece secure,
flippers in synch, the boat above
bobbing gently, the mast a silver glint
beside the sun –

An Alaskan quake sends tremors our way
forcing: an early end to snorkeling, hotel
evacuation, an uphill drive with all the other
shoreside evacuees.

Nowhere to go, cars parked end to
end, waiting out the tidal wave.
We make a party of it, sitting on car
rooftops, sharing

birthday cake (for Tad) and stories
of where we’d been when the whistle
blew; above it all, no sense now of
being vulnerable,

though just a year ago, I walked
the hall from parking lot to hospital by
my father’s side; his steps were small
and tentative,

he stopped to rest every couple yards.
I was strong, steady in my gait, a step or
two behind but ready with hand at
his elbow, knowing

how he hated to be dependent,
knowing that’s my inheritance, that
some days this genetic pride makes me
feel superior like

today, a mile from the ocean, chased
by a tide I can’t control, warned
of a tsunami I don’t believe
will ever come.


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