Alida Woods
Swallowing Glass

All night the rain pounded
doors and palms bent against
gravity. By morning the wind
muscled its way through chinks,
lifting corners, everything out of place.

For days, dire predictions
held us hostage as we nailed plywood
over windows and prepared
for the worst.

Driving north on 95,
my wife escapes.
I stay and wait,
as the storm tears
into the trail of tiny islands.

Roads as rivers reroute
our lives – a box of drenched Pampers
churns past my dinghy on the way
to collect Sonja and her two-year-old
stranded on the 3rd floor of
The Sanibelle, and there is her mother,
Dolores, 92, just arrived from Haiti.

On the raft beside me
an elderly man clutches
a tattered valise. He is drinking
from a bottle of
river coloured liquid. Water laps
in languid slurps at his feet.

In my boat a case of clear
bottled water is ballast for the
light load I carry. I twist
open a bottle and when I drink
it feels as though I am
swallowing glass.