Last week, after Sandy gnashed her way northward, I took a drive down to the town of Westerly at the southwestern tip of Rhode Island (which, it appears, is too tiny to give mention in the Wiki link provided, other than to power-loss numbers), where I manage a small shopping center, and then turned back north, up along Rhode Island's coastline. Our 8,000 square foot center, which is about a mile in from the coast, did fine with the exception of the loss of two south-facing signs on the center's large pylon, but much of the southern coast of this little state was reduced to rubble by Sandy's outer bands of wind and storm surge, and several homes along Westerly's Misquamicut beach seemed to be devoured whole, trace timber crumbs scattered along the shoreline.
The she-storm's aftermath felt oddly quiet. Maybe, though, it was just my mind. My mind taciturn. I could not locate words as I drove past stretches of rough-surf beach and golden farm and tragically but beautifully broken stone walls—all kinds of debris spewed across field and road and beachfront but not a word to be found. I took pictures and made mental notations, wondering how many insurance claims one company can handle, absorb. I would need to make a call myself. When I found the words.
Just beyond the breachway, as I sat in my car at the edge of Wawaloam Drive in Weekapaug, overlooking Block Island Sound, I thought, too, about poetic sequence, in particular mine (you know, the one I'm writing, the theme of which is my expectation of and ultimate disappointment with New England's seasons), how I had developed only a loose narrative in the five poems I'd written to date, and how I hadn't yet written a sonnet. Here, certainly, was drama enough for sonnet, and, well, I must write a sonnet! On my northward drive I turned east toward Moonstone, but when I arrived the beach had been closed off entirely. Standing at the cordoned off gate of Moonstone Beach Road, watching military helicopters whirling across the sky, listening to the ocean's post-Sandy low-pitched hymn, inhaling its aroma, swallowing the romantic pinks and purples of a warm aurora, the silent, wordless current cascading through the narrow valleys of my mind was instantly, galvanically, awakened and I knew at once what I hadn't before fully digested: my poetic sequence was not only about my expectations, my disappointments—how I perceived seasons to be failing in almost legendary fashion—but rather a sequence that speaks to the much larger and universal issue of climate change. And Sandy, this badly behaved November storm, came with her own tale, a growing thematic narrative, one of which might well be called Global Warming.
What had I taken on?
Springsteen's Sandy may never have come back, but I have this woeful feeling that she-storms like Sandy will return with more frequency, with high drama and little romance, and in their wakes will leave the same catastrophic hymn, salty aroma and burning aurora as Sandy. I wonder how this will change the game, what bills we'll bring to congress, which shall pass into laws, and which laws—other than zoning laws which shall certainly be modified to address the rising seas—may be nullified or amended.
(Just this morning, Think Progress posted an article which asks if Sandy is "[...]a 'Cuyahoga River Moment' for Climate Change." Cuyahoga is the Ohio river that, at one time, was known for being the most polluted river in the US. Littered with trash and slicked with oil, it burned several times; it's infamous 1969 burning sparked a number of water pollution laws, including the Clean Water Act.)
What are we taking on?
At tonight's high school soccer banquet, no one seemed to be talking politics (but then again, I don't bring it up). But I know tomorrow, at the polls, I won't be the only voter wondering, and maybe gabbing about, which candidate will address and act upon the very real threat, the course, of global warming. Who will truly be compelled to honor the subject, ask central questions, demand answers, reckon with his presidential sensibilities, and see it through—bringing real action and change. This is much more than politics, and I wonder who prefers writing the poetic sequence over the punchline. There is an aurora rising behind and above us. Poetry. Pure poetry.
I grew up drinking from that Cuyahoga River. and Mike Stipe wrote a pretty little song about it.ReplyDelete
Ah, Kono! I thought about including that song at the end of this post. But then my finger took control and hit the PUBLISH NOW! button. ;)ReplyDelete
So how'd the river look to you back then?
Such a sense of foreboding here Jayne, but you are so right! Whatever stance the government takes on global warning this next year may well determine Earth's future. And now it looks like there's a new storm making its way up the eastern coast.ReplyDelete
Interesting correlation between your disappointment in the seasons and your recognition of global warming--the stuff sonnets are made of? Problem and hopefully resolution.
Post election, Ru, I think we may have a better chance of seriously addressing climate change. :)Delete
We're also post-second storm here. I was amazed that school wasn't delayed this morning. We got almost a half foot. But we New Englanders are a determinate bunch... we don't want to be in school all summer (thought it wouldn't hurt).
To resolution! :)
Romney wants to dismantle FEMA and make the states take care of their own tragedies - against the whole concept of community. That along with the horrendous environmental insensitivity and focus on giving big business whatever they want -oh and his revolting lack of respect for women, minorities, and non-heterosexuals.... I have tried to put behind me the heartache of what happened when GWBush "won" twelve years ago and hope to god that we don't see someone like Romney take office who would kick us and our earth when we're down.ReplyDelete
Excellent as always. Can you tell what's hovering in my mind?
I'm celebrating with you EG! To be honest, though, I hadn't made a final decision until Max stood over me in the booth. I knew who he was praying for. And then, Lu, who didn't come forward, was praying for another. It's been entertaining listening to two young teens debate the merits (or the opposite) of both candidates.Delete
the pictures show the impact of that storm - and one can only speculate what might follow.
The force of nature - it might be showing the real size of men, reducing us to be humble. To do what is possible to stop exploitation of the earth.
The second photo of yours reminds me very, very much of Caspar David Friedrich's Polar Sea.
I'm interested in your sonnet!
For a couple of years, Britta, I lived right up the road from where the bottom photo was taken. It's a beautiful area of RI. But not to worry, it will be restored, and Lil Rhody won't be worse for the wear. (I mean, how much worse can our fiscal condition get?)Delete
I finished the sonnet, but it's not done. Although my class is--and I missed that last one last night because of snow storm. I so wanted to venture out, but I would have been driving home late evening and road conditions were deteriorating rapidly. I had hoped Brown would reschedule, but they pressed on. See? This is why I need to live right in the heart of city!
Talking politics is quite fun. We do it often for lunch at work, and always disagree. I think we have the full spectrum present, from socialist to right wing. Recently, we have discussed today's US election, of course >:)ReplyDelete
Cold As Heaven
Ha- politics fun! I'm glad you have fun w/it, Cold. Maybe we'd have better voter turn-out if everyone enjoyed knocking politics around as much as you. You know, I kind of in a little cocoon working from home... I do miss that work lunch from time to time. ;)Delete
I seems like the US could bebefit from some more lunch-time political discussion. Then working-class Americans would probably stop voting republican. Remember that song by Kris Kristoffersen: "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose" (if I remember correctly, from the top of my head).Delete
And about working from home: Think I would never be able to do that on a longer term. I would miss all my crazy, smart and nerdy colleagues too much. Our lunch time discussions span everything from Babylonian number system to Communism ("in theory it's a good idea, in practice it failed"). I have several colleagues who grew up in East Germany and Russia; very interesting people to talk to >:)
Cold As Heaven
Jayne, so glad you made it through the storm.ReplyDelete
As I stood in line to vote today, the thought crossed my mind - that I could only hope that global warming isn't just a fleeting thought or "I'll put that on my to do list" in the back of any candidates mind. We need to act upon it...now.
Such a gray day here in Indiana.
No more fleeting thoughts, Loree. I think that is clear. I hope. :/Delete
Jayne, I probably need to read this post a few more times in order to absorb the "romantic pinks and purples of a warm aurora." I felt such a sadness in this post—a twitching and a tear. Yes, you must write a sonnet.ReplyDelete
I did, Leah! Six poems. A poetic sequence. Of course, it still needs a lot of tweaking (I'll shelve for another time). I must say that I enjoyed the utter exhaustion and pain from which it was born. Heh.Delete
When I drove the coast I did not feel sadness so much as I did awe. The gods are a perplexing lot.
On this election night there are so many concerns running through my head. Let's hope that humanity and love of humanity in the end wins...ReplyDelete
Win! In the end, yes, always. ;)Delete
An aurora, or a fury? I don't see poetry in what we face. There is so much dismal failure of so many to recognize the simple facts (like the fact of global warming).ReplyDelete
Fury, too, Susan. Though I think there is a uniquely poetic take to all of this. Poetry can be found in failure as much as it is in success, in our efforts to educate, inform, take action, rectify. Why is our globe warming? And, What can we do, if anything, to change the course? This is the real question. I don't think anyone can any longer deny the facts. Dismal, indeed, if they do. (That rock they're under must be awfully heavy.)Delete
As my Job takes me throughout the Northeast, I too have driven by the many seacoast towns where I have once fond memories. Memories of being at the Beaches under the Warm Summers Sun, being at the Sea Walls where I have enjoyed sitting ... taking in the sights & smells, Eatting hotdogs & Lobster rolls from the many shacks that lined "any beach New England", and viewing the Majestic Homes that have the Best View of the Ocean ... wishing I lived there. Sad to say, my heart is saddened by the destruction I have seen ... The "Power in the Storm" can not and should not ever be under estimated. I have enjoy your piece here and would one day like to see your "Poetic Sequence" . Stay Safe! :)ReplyDelete
Ah, yes, the lobster shacks! I love, especially, the shacks of coastal Maine. I probably won't publish my entire poetic sequence here, Gary. But I may throw the final piece up on a page, if I can work up the nerve--though, a few of the poems in my sequence are reworked poems that I have previously published on SubSol. :)Delete
powerful Jayne - a few years ago New England was THE place to see the fall colors. It would be marketed that way in travel brochures in England. I wonder if I ever get there in the fall if it will be a disappoinment.ReplyDelete
I hope you do get here, David, and I hope it's not a disappointment to you when you do. Mid-October is usually a lovely time here, but who knows what the future will bring. :/Delete
Such a well written article about a serious crisis. Climate change must be faced and not argued over. To me, it is not a partisan issue. It's common sense and we need to act immediately to study the best course of action to address this deterioration. Here in Arizona, we had the most blistering summer imaginable. I know intuitively that something is certainly wrong. Glad you are safe from so much dangerous weather, Jayne.ReplyDelete
Common sense, Michael--if only that we valued common sense a bit more, weren't so afraid to face the Plain Truth. (Oh, Thomas Paine, where are you when we need you!) Really, I fear for Arizona. From what I've been reading, it doesn't look like AZ will see a summer cooling trend. I hope everything, every one!, is well conditioned/air conditioned! :)Delete
Sorry to have been out of touch for such a long, long time. So glad you and yours are okay post-Sandy - I can't imagine what it must have been like to experience the force of such a storm.
Look forward to the sonnet. Also - what amazing place names in RI?
Lucy- I'm so happy to see you back on the blog scene! Yes, we do have lots of interesting names in the state--many places names were derived from the state's native indian language.Delete
The sonnet, oh the sonnet, will I, won't I?... Ok, well, perhaps. ;)
I'll be visiting you soon, my dear. :D