The top of the moringa tree planted
when we first moved here twists
horizontal as if scribbled against
darkening sky by a child’s crayon.
Pine needles hurl against my face
in sharp nicks that tell me to go
inside now, or not ever. Fear
snags the inescapable next breath.
The orchid tree whose blooms fed
hummingbirds cracks then careens
down on the grave of our cat. Behind
that, the seventy-foot sweet bay magnolia
lists left in a way she never did before, silver
leaves dropping like tinsel after Christmas
on the wet, sandy soil where her roots
spread near the surface of a loosening grip.
I pray to God for the magnolia’s safety,
selfish because if she falls it will be on us
and our house. Beside me, my husband
who believes neither in God nor prayer,
lifts his arms to the tree and asks
her to stand her ground, to not fall,
to not break, her or us. I plead prayers
for the souls of everyone falling or broken.
The wind goes quiet with a soft fade
as if someone slow and aged
carries the soundtrack further east.
We share sweet apples and salty peanuts
by candlelight for breakfast and
give thanks we are still here and
that the sweet bay magnolia held to
her roots and did not fall or break.
Deepening fetid flood waters host rot
and mosquito larvae multiplying in the
misery of Florida’s long recovery while trees
who still stand offer shade, their singular
blessings of cool green against the hot sky
as a hummingbird feeds from buds on a downed
firebush and I plead a mantra of prayers
for everything and everyone falling or broken.
About the Poem
I live in Southwest Florida and the eyewall of Hurricane Ian passed right by us as a high-end Category 2. At first, the National Hurricane Center predicted it would be close to a direct hit on us as a Category 3 or 4, but my husband and I decided to stay rather than evacuate. Our hearts break for those south of us who were the ultimate target of this brutal monster of a storm. Our power is now on, and we are safe, but so many remain homeless. I ask that everyone reading this remember those who have lost their homes and often more. Their situations are desperate. Please, please donate to any of the many fine charities which are sending help to Florida.
About the Author
Claire Matturro is a former lawyer and college teacher, and author of eight novels, including four published by HarperCollins. Her poetry has been published in Kissing Dynamite, New Verse News, One Art, Muddy River Poetry Review, Topical Poetry, Tiger Moth Review, Lascaux Review and forthcoming in Slant.