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The Hurricane

by Cyrus Cassells


               Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, 1989

All the windows are guileless and open to the sea,
    the murmur of Atlantic coral:
smash them,
    smash them with your song,
wild to the Western ear—
    And who are you,
with your stripping punches—
    you’re uprooting the palms,
you’re tearing the leaves—
    oh what you love is the skeletal—
and who am I,
    that you would take my verdant snake,
my blessed island,
    and dash it to pieces?

If this day, this aftermath,
    is a thorny school,
the sere light and the day,
    then what is the lesson in it?
That the gift is always imperilled?
    That the swart, surviving horses,
the veteran palms
    seem more alive now, more alive?—

In the iron, gargantuan hush:
    medicine and smithereens,
a fierce concentration
    on cherishing the living.
From spirit back to spirit again;
    dash it to pieces, Creator, Destroyer,
you pirate god, Huracán,
    with your ferocious gangplank,
your pitiless and raucous
    wind-that-will-ensure-grief—

And yet it dares to be born,
    mud-fresh, mud-fresh,
like a foal,
    amid the wreckage, the bankruptcy:
from spirit into flesh again:
    resilience.

 

Cyrus Cassells is the author of two collections, The Mud Actor, a 1982 National Poetry Series winner, and Down from the Houses of Magic. He was recently poet-in-residence at Holy Cross and Northeastern University. (1992)


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