Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Bay Rises

by Casey FitzSimons

The trains were first to go, then
the freeway hum.

What I’d expected
was a flood: water’s raucous breach
of coast defenses, the sound of its
incursion on the land. I’d expected
people running from a tsunami
whose surges came at intervals, occasioning
fear and flight, violent and desperate acts.
I’d envisioned familiar establishments
submerged to their transoms, their names
still legible on signs and marquees.

What did happen
was more orderly: discussions
over dinner, debates
in the houses of supposed wisdom
about property ownership, the Magna Carta,
theories of legal performance.

Businesses closed before the water
rose around them, some dismantled
behind plywood panels in tidy
deconstruction sites. There were no
floating palettes, sodden sofas, or gyres
of random debris. What might have become
flotsam and jetsam had already been moved inland,
traded, repurposed, re-situated.

What has happened
is a calm tide of smooth water, seemingly
at my eye level. It is a marsh marked off
by telephone poles and a few pitched roofs
of red tiles surrounded by heaving
unmoored islands of grass and peat. Oil slicks
have given way to marine stench, swooping gulls,
and the dinghies of treasure seekers.

Last to go was the racket of city streets. Quiet
has risen with the water level.


  1. Wonderful picture, Casey. I see it. (Also hear it and smell it.) Fully realized.