After the Hurricane

After the Hurricane
by Christine Poreba

We were nearly broken by a week
of the kind of dark and heat
our predecessors endured unceasingly, 

when kitchens were run by a single flame
of candle and towns were traveled
by lantern and feel.

In Apalachicola in 1851, John Gorrie
gave up medicine in the hopes of inventing
an ice-making machine to cool a room
for summer’s victims of yellow fever. 

Now he stands with one hand on his stone hip
outside the house where he lived and, in 1855, died
secluded, penniless, his failure like a hurricane. 

This line I’m standing in for ice is almost as long
as the one for fried chicken. 

Out on the street, a strange September scent
of Christmas seeps from the broken trees
whose branches time had woven
with the delicate threads of power lines.

Among the fallen pine needles, 
bodies of baby squirrels lie like torn gray envelopes,
as though holding messages in another language.
Did we ever speak it? §




Christine Poreba’s first book, Rough Knowledge, won the 2014 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Subtropics, The Southern Review, and The Sun Magazine, as well as various anthologies. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and their young son.