Broken Back

Something is gathering within me, a weather pattern, a storm,
a hurricane to show just how the houses went down, how the trees died-
the coast of Mississippi ravaged and destroyed, disappeared.
Left among the devastation were tokens of survival,
five steps leading up to nothing, a wing of a house attached to the air,
a boat caught high in a tree.
Somehow the little house looked as though it had been spared.
Built before the Civil War, each square foot was made of wood-
the ceiling, the walls, the floor had all been thickly hidden
under yellowed layers of vinyl flooring and wallpaper.
Homeless men and drug addicts had been living in it since it fell in on itself,
left for dead.
They lit fires in the kitchen and the front room right on the floor,
but when mom pulled everything up it was there just waiting, perfect, ready to be found.
The wood shined up to its original beauty and one could not help but feel
that it was thankful.
The foundation needed to be leveled and the chimney rebuilt,
but in the end it was saved,
tiny and painted a pale yellow and white,
sunning itself beneath a large pecan tree.
A friend passed by after the storm and called to say that it had made it,
while every house around it had been washed away or broken into bits.
But when mom drove up to Mississippi to see it with her own eyes,
she could tell even from a distance that the only thing
that had stopped it from washing away
was the pecan tree that seemed to hold onto it as tightly as it could,
and that lodged against the tree’s trunk, she could tell
that its back had been broken,
and that this time,
the little house would not be saved.

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All works © 2017, Shelley Hesse. All Rights Reserved.