It’s only jetsam if you throw it overboard yourself. But when the water’s high, none of this is voluntary: the things you couldn’t move to higher ground float down a river bent on destroying a century-old record, down your driveway, your one way out of this neck of the woods. But after that phone call you couldn’t move anyway.
Plastic jugs empty of kitty litter, the ubiquitous tarp, unopened cans of cheap beer, hypodermics from the homeless camp, raw sewage, last year’s topsoil, whole trees like ships in full sail sweep sideways, westward ho, toward the great brown Pacific. Rain, relentless as a hungry cat, claws at leaves and windows, and the creek fills. It’s when the rain stops, when the creek rises above the culvert lip and drains no more, quietly crawls backward, that it gets you. Silent water overtakes the levee, the road, the driveway, the neighbor’s car, his porch. The ground disappears. You are marooned in grief. After the flood you collect sticks and limbs, tumbled and smooth, blown into water by the wind, then left dry when the river receded. This one’s the right height for a cane, if you needed one to lean on, carry you through the next day.
Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning poet, author, blogger and journalist. She was named Poet Laureate for the city of Alameda (CA) in 2014. Julia’s poetry has appeared most recently in Autumn House Review, Tiferet Journal, Daphne, and Yellow Chair Review. Her essays have appeared in Salon, Narratively, Redbook, Huffington Post and more. @juliaparktracey F|T|IG