THE HOUSE, AFTER SANDY
By Samantha Zimbler
1. The Girl
No airplanes flew by.
Outside the window, I saw small dogs shivering
helplessly as they floated down a river
of boats and houses.
I spent the dark days cultivating mindfulness
in a half-lotus position, drawing cats
with lopsided faces and throwing them into the fire.
And in the night there was green lightning
that flashed for just a moment too long.
Morning found small birds playing
dead on suburban lawns.
The people around me were doing the strangest
things in the dark.
There would be a new baby boom,
since people no longer knew what to do
with their bare hands, their aching bodies.
“Accept the chaos,” they must have whispered
to one another in their unmade beds,
beside the faint glow of old candles,
My parents’ room smelled of holly,
of gingerbread-scented oil burning,
before the damage,
but of oak, of wet bark,
when the ancient tree,
its body now spent,
slept peacefully, its spine
warped into an impossible angle
with their unmoving bodies.
2. The Father
“My whole body is a wasteland now,”
she whispers to me in the chaotic dark,
and I can hear her cosmic selflove
erupt into stars–
she begs to be nakedly taken,
to be thrust into the wrinkles of the
to multiply, to prove her bodily worth.
She runs a softsocked foot against my
freshly-pressed trouser leg;
I feel the sudden urge to check on the broken generator.
I am afraid of a new attack,
while her body is pumping with
blood and want.
I am afraid that this shelter, this
life I have built,
will come crumbling before I do.
And in the newfound silence of these dark days
of meat rotting in the freezer while
society is suspended in its own sudden humanness,
I can hear the blood rush into my ears,
microscopic cells bounding to the cardinal organs.
Do I sink with her? Submit to the apocalyptic present,
the downwardmoving spiral of our history,
our story? Do I long to please the neighbors,
Or do I admit to myself that it is
the woman’s own vanishing selfhood
that she loves,
seeing who she is fall away in wisps
landing at her
The lightning strikes
and green leaves burst through the ceiling.
deciding my fate for me.
3. The Mother
I want him to feel the wildness in me,
kicking its way around,
searching for the secret
And, in this way,
I am less alone than he.
I light the candles, thumb my prayer beads,
and place a small white pill
on my swollen tongue.
I force it down, the badness,
force it inside me
with the last of my saliva.
I feel my throat begin to close
in on us both,
the terror begin to subside.
There is a heat that will not come.
It is alive in the shadows;
the fat water plunging from the black sky
sends traces of it–
I watch on in solidarity
as mother nature cries cold tears
on the windows, which glow with
the dizzy electric chaos outside.
The vast wetness is inescapable.
I feel the entire axis coming unhinged
the entire room is falling victim
to this savage and inescapable night.
4. The Tree
There is no home for the ancient.
We have no graves, no palace doors.
Our mothers live in the dust of other lands.
It is possible that our souls have already expired,
fled to seek the warm newness
of refuge, salvation.
We are the product of the earth now,
in the gray night.
There is nothing left to see from above.
My once unyielding spine of oak is cracking
with the effort of each falling leaf.
These wooden limbs will soon give way.
I am dizzy, growing weary from the static,
the electric clouds above a rushing land.
The ground is not at peace tonight;
It wraps around my roots
and pulls me down.
Nothing is uncaused. The currents in the air
What is left of me bows down
to kiss the trembling earth.
About the Author:
Samantha Zimbler is a poet and activist who works in digital publishing. She has taught memoir-writing in a maximum-security prison, is the founder of the Brooklyn zine Damsel Rouge, and has given numerous academic and creative presentations, such as at MLA conferences and The New Jim Crow read-out. Zimbler has had poetry published in the Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle as well as the Rutgers journal Rejoinder.