Winter 03



It was a hard winter everywhere, and the angle at which difficulties found you
depended on how far away from the floodwall you were. When only a part of it
was built we drove to higher ground, a place from which to gauge the dimensions

of breadcrumbs floating on the river. It flooded halfway to where the hills roll,
approaching what had seemed hinterland. Ideally a region will release all citizens
who refuse to face rising water. With umbrellas hooked over arms and

placed in packs, they will seek and out all that has collected at the foot
of the temporary state of things. The impractical weight of every answer is
what makes any kind of flight a challenge. I consider and approach you

with an eye to appraisal, then panic when you flop the last three cards at once.
Please tell me that what we own remains accessible even if it means we must
shift as many tons of fluid as we have limbs. Dreams piped in open the elevator

and let other things through. Memories of music supercede hearing, splinter off
from rusting mesh, saturate discarded dolls, roil against the inevitable tires,
and lead you to the branch for which we long have searched. At last you will nap,

admit to fatigue, not just to sleep but the need for it. It was a hard winter
throughout the city. Its body was in shambles, and the wood paneling was soaked
then dried then froze. Are you spying on anyone these days? Relics of our visit

aren’t old enough to take on the burden of meaning everything we are unable
to express in words. Accordingly, we organize ourselves around transitions
and move away from anything that might ask for a favor. Blink and you’ll

miss something, but here’s a second chance to sense it. Sit in the front of the boat,
where you’ll be able to see anything visible but will also be drenched within minutes.
The photo of a double-hinged jaw and a person beside it to demonstrate size

can be found on postcards in any store near moving water. I have never caught
a fish. Within the flood, debris floats, is suspended, and has sunk to rest on what is
normally a surface. You may fall overboard but will remain, unavoidably, yourself.



Vertigo (2)

Vertigo (3)

A Rare










Beth Anderson is the author of The Habitable World (Instance Press) and Overboard (Burning Deck, forthcoming). Recent work has appeared in New American Writing, 26, and Five Fingers Review. Her poems are included in The Best American Poetry 2003 (Scribner) and An Anthology of New (American) Poets (Talisman House). She lives in Richmond, Virginia.