How High’s the Water, Mama?

We slopped into the flotsam and jetsam of discarded things, dead leaves and sewer silt and network cables looped as nooses. Water gurgled from the storm drain like bubbles from a half-open mouth, and it didn’t matter how many curse words we filled ours with. It just kept coming.

Only a few moments before we’d been filming the hail outside, crouching in the open doorway and scooping the chips of strange ice off of the porch. It was colder than I expected, even for ice. The water in the basement was cold, too, squelching through two pairs of shoes as we swept frantically, first, the books and computer equipment from the drowning carpet. Minutes dragged like trails of sand-thin mud down the drain, strange patterns that tried our patience as we waited for the water to recede, inch by inch.

You emptied drawers of fabric from a rotting-bottomed bureau and I boxed yarn, buttons, stamp ink pads. I carried spiral bound college textbooks, photo albums, paperback novels you’ll never read again, and computer manuals up the stairs, emptying them from a water-logged bookcase into stacks I could manage. Twenty times too many I  hobbled up and down. I held my belly when my arms were empty, thinking, I’m not so out of shape for six months pregnant. Thinking, where does all of this crap come from? And can’t we just get rid of it?

“This is why I don’t like the sound of rain anymore,” you say. We used to like storms.

I still try.

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