Tropical Sturm und Drang

I love storms, the rain, the rush, but already this is ridiculous and a little scary. On high ground, we’re in no danger of the flooding sure to hit parts of Austin, to say nothing of Houston already underwater. For us it’s only spooky and inconvenient. Power blips and soggy sneaks, stir-crazy pups. Might lose a limb on a tree. Need to bury tiny dead things.

But we’re fine.

We leave the doors open for the first time since April. Harvey knocks and we let him right in, pooling on the floor, rattling the windows we crack for the cross breeze. After months of 100 degrees plus, 72 feels amazing, clearing the house of summer heat, fresh air blasting in. An exorcism performed by a demon.

I’m a stomach sleeper and it’s finally catching up to me, compounded by text neck and not taking care of my body. I get two, three headaches a week. They last two, twenty hours a piece. They inch up the knots in my neck, sink claws in my whole head, snerk at the over-the-counter drugs I take futilely. I’ve been trying to take better care of my spine, sit less, stand tall, sleep on my back or my side. But what this really means is I toss all night.

When the power goes out, the white noise dies—the fan I’ve had on for 30 years, leaving me with the whoosh of the squalls and the whoosh in my ears from all the years of rigorous live music appreciation. I used ear plugs religiously but it didn’t matter. My heart beats my ear drums all night—until the power comes back, though it’s out again at least twice, and all the midnight sounds bleat bright.

Frog chirps lamenting their houses caving in.

Sopping critters scritching.

The bamboo chimes Arthur rigged with twine clattering, knocking.

The dogs on the floor, beneath the bed whimpering.

I’m reading Arabian Nights—first time—and this translation uses demon, not jinn. Though realistically unqualified to have an opinion, I still ponder this decision. Wonder what it’s missing, maybe nothing. If I had a lamp and a demon or a jinn and three granted wishes or even just one, I’d want to know what my dogs are dreaming of so I could give it to them. Protect them.

The splatter of rain on the window pane, Texas thin.

That wind that wind that wind.

I swear I hear the shiver in the box on the porch, the fledgling mourning dove we picked off the lawn. We’ve got a life and death situation! says Arthur late yesterday afternoon, gathering tea towels and rushing into the rain. The wind had blown the nest from the boughs of the chinaberry, scattering the crosshatch twigs and grass. One tiny bird, dead. It’s sibling, bedraggled, a mess of wet feathers in that liminal stage—brand new born? or starting to rot? a swath still bald, skeletal, more falling apart than coming together. You could see its fear thrumming in its chest, black bead eyes what next?

You go in the smallest box Amazon ships out, you poop all over our kitchen towel and then you get thought about in the middle of the night, wondering if you’re all right, dead or scared or anything. If it’s encoded anywhere in your little birdy brain that this isn’t right. This isn’t supposed to happen. The next morning you go to Austin Wildlife Rescue, where they poke you prod you warm you feed you, tuck you in tight. Raise you up right.

In the meantime, I lengthen my spine. Field emails from family sent within minutes, both with the subject line, You guys okay? Our HEB’s got a downed tree but endcaps stacked with bottled water, packed with determined but courteous shoppers we’re all in this together! and we’re not in much of anything but waiting, and wonder.

I let everyone know we’re wet and fine, thinking of the coast.

Watching the trees touch their toes, the bamboo rattling like bone.

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