a poem by Liza Katz Duncan

Can’t he see that our bodies
are just our bodies, tied to what we know?

.            –        Patricia Smith


Given the urgency with which humans run toward water, have always run toward water

Given the human impulse to build at the tide’s fingertips

Given ancient cultures evolved on floodplains, thrived for thousands of years, and there are those who flourish still: who don’t hold onto trappings, or have none to hold onto; who fold their dark tents onto their backs once a year and walk to higher ground

Given our bodies are just our bodies, 78 percent water

Given my neighbor Kristina, who had nowhere to go; who hadn’t packed, was wearing all her valuables when the storm hit

Given the wedding ring from a previous marriage, the bruise it made on her swollen fingers a parenthesis left open

Given this house and everything in it is everything she’s ever made or done: an oil painting of a fisherman at high tide. A clam shell for an ashtray. A daughter. A life

Given all of these floating through the flooded house like driftwood

Given the basement filled like a bathtub

Given roads turned to rivers

Given bodies fished from the phragmites

Given a growing ocean

What would you have done?