Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2021  Vol. 20  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Category Five

When I drive up the old coast road along the Gulf, I see closed motels with empty postage stamp pools out front, fenced with chain link.

Bare flea markets, stump sellers, and many purveyors of life-sized fiberglass novelty sharks, manatees, and mermaids, hanging from oak trees, mounted on flat roofs, faded in the sun.

I sense the ghost of my father in the empty fields here, pass the wasteland remnants of the trailer park where we lived. A pile of shag carpet, acrid mildew, beer cans, middens of the impoverished alcoholic life.

At the edge of my childhood, the state forest.

And on the outskirts of Blountstown—I’m sixty miles and an hour, more, from the coast—all the trees are broken. In every direction, forever to the horizon, there are no trees, just pale, broken posts.

Young green trees are broken and bent all in one direction, northeast.

It looks as though there’s a hard wind blowing from the sea, bending every tree, but it’s January. The actual air is motionless, overcast, and plain.

The broken trees are stripped of their leaves and bark.

Homes are piles of lumber and junk. Dead trees are stacked along the  highway, still, a year after the storm.

As I drive, for an hour, I see the fingerprint of the hurricane, the rotation, the young trees are blown north, then northwest, then southwestward.

In every direction to the horizon, the pale posts shimmer in silence over the bare land.  

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