High Holy Days 2023

Poem written by Ann Bookman, used with permission from Blood Lines (Forthcoming, 2021)

The summer of Hurricane Carol: waves
swallowed wind-shaped dunes, sea grass and all,
in hungry gulps. Salt water seeped under the front door
of our beach cottage: gingham dish towels, thick bath towels,
none enough to soak up the widening spool of water.

Hunker down, said my mother, wait for the storm to pass.
But I knew we were trapped: phone lines down,
electric lights out, comforting static of the ham radio
silenced. Our yellow and white Chevy Impala
floated down the driveway like a bath toy.

We lit candles, played “Go Fish” all night, afraid
to let sleep steal our watch. I must have dozed off:
by morning the bay no longer an ocean,
flat pewter platter extending to the horizon,
as if someone had let the air out of a balloon.

Suddenly a murmuration of starlings
above the beach, sparkling,
then darkening the sky,
black undulating curtain of shining wings,
swooning, swooping in unison,
putting the hurricane to shame,
a feathering of grace:
inviting us to join the dance.