The roof is leaking,
our dry creek is running.
All day he phones
to say stay in.

I put on my hooded coat
and go out with the camera,
to see the dark whirlpools
swirling around the oaks.

Stepping out on the thin strip
of ground that remains
when sense prevails,
telling me it could collapse
and I would be swept away.
I could drown.

My neighbor stands at the fence
holding her umbrella.
A volunteer firemen,
not a sissy like me,
I have seen her step into
her rubber boots and pants
in one swoop, the way firemen do,
their gear connected
for quick departure.

I hear the familiar beep
of the road crew trucks,
and then the fire truck passes
its lights flashing.

Up the road temporary water pipes
have been submerged,
Sludge races through the culvert
beneath the road, and
that’s the good news –
it’s still beneath the road.

Cars pass with their lights on,
splashing me.
I have been at loose ends
all day, unable to do the usual
rainy day things,
the cats and I pacing
in front of the glass back door,
watching the yard wash away.

I feel better when I am out
in it,
where I can see for myself.
It is never dull here,
I exclaim to the cats
when I return.

The temporary water pipes
have not held,
cookie sheets and mixing bowls
pile up in the sink,
and it continues to rain.

2/3/98 98poems/next

Where will I be next
I wonder, sitting at
my desk.
Not worry exactly
but uncertainty,
a hesitation to trust.

Attached as I am
to the tangle
of bougainvillea
I see each day,
here where I learned
at last how to
spell bougainvillea.

Its savage ways
in contrast to the
small neat squares
of the lattice
it runs toward.

As I come to meet
you at the end
of the day,
most days at least,
and follow you about
with words,
and if I don’t you feel
neglected somehow,
and stand beside me
announcing, “I’m home.”

It takes words
that way,
words make it so.