The night before, we’d waited for the weather bureau to give its warning, a storm signal level that would close offices and schools, but it hadn’t come.
By mid-morning the rains had intensified, and by afternoon it was too late: there we were, stranded on the second floor of the school, floodwaters swirling below us up the stairs.
I can’t remember what grade I was in. Huddled with my classmates, we waited in the cold and flickering lights, for salvation.
And it came. One by one they arrived – fathers, mothers, grandparents – making their way through the muddy waters towards us.
Plucked from desolation by my father, I still remember being carried on his shoulders, the long journey home. And though the waters had risen to cover our first floor, it was home.
On the second floor, dry and safe in my mother’s arms, I whispered a child’s silent prayer of thanks.
That was a long time ago, on an archipelago in the Pacific, eight thousand miles away. Time passes, the world marred by earthquakes, revolutions, typhoons.
Suddenly the weather bureaus report the confluence of several storms, a rare merging of a hurricane with a northern cold front, the largest in Atlantic history.
It collides with the northeastern coast of the United States, and its devastation is enormous.
Further inland and shielded from the devastation, the clash of water, the flooded geography brings back memories.
The phone rings.
It is my father, eight thousand miles away, worried about how things are for me, worried that he cannot be there for me, his grown son.
It all clings to me, the phone call, the storm, my father’s voice.
Days later, on Thanksgiving eve, I finish this poem:
by Samuel Peralta
Tonight, I am six again, and your
hands hold me shivering there,
anchored to your shoulders,
navigating waters lapping now my
knees, your chest, rising like the
storm’s dark curse. Now here, your
gnarled hand in mine, in prayer,
I bow my head and thank what
vagrant providence gave me you –
if only for this briefest time, this
night – who laddered me to higher
ground, my weathered ark, my rock.
An acrostic poem. The initial letters of each line spell out its theme. That’s the only rule, unless the purist thinks to add a second: that every line of the poem relates to the theme.
But that’s not what really matters.
Today, this Thanksgiving Day, I invite you to celebrate those things that make you thankful, that give you pause, the things that matter.
Perhaps, if you have time, you might dash a poem – an acrostic, perhaps – in commemoration.
Whatever your reveries bring – I thank you.
I thank you for this wonderful chance to share with you some of my own memories and poetry, and for those who find time to do the same – thank you.
Samuel Peralta – on Twitter as @Semaphore – is the author of five titles in The Semaphore Collection – Sonata Vampirica, Sonnets from the Labrador, How More Beautiful You Are, Tango Desolado and War and Ablution – all #1 on the Amazon Kindle List of Hot New Releases in Poetry on their debut… and for that he is also thankful.
Copyright (c) Samuel Peralta. All rights reserved.
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