Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Sandy Beaches"

This poem came out of the December 1, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "depressed" square in my 12-1-15 card for the Defining Character Bingo fest and the "natural disaster" square in my 11-3-15 card for the Disaster Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by EdorFaus. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem deals with some difficult topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It's about hurricanes, their damage, and how people cope with the aftermath in Easy City. Major emotional whump with lasting damage ensues. If these are sensitive subjects for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"Sandy Beaches"

Davis Amesville loved Easy City,
but she wasn't very good to him.

After Hurricane Ida flooded their house
in November of 2009, his parents and
three younger brothers moved up to
Shreveport at the end of the year.

Davis, deep into engineering at
the University of New Orleans,
decided to stay behind.

That paid off when his internship
building artificial islands turned
into a full-time job, and eventually,
the opportunity to design his own.

Davis made friends easily, and had
no difficulty assembling work crews.
He particularly liked Ford Alexander,
who headed up the welding team
in charge of building frameworks.

Disaster struck again in 2012
when Hurricane Sandy swept
through Louisiana, destroying
la 'Tit'Ile -- the Little Island --
along with much of the beachfront.

After the storm, Davis stared distraught
at the wreckage of his design. Strong winds
had ripped the sheathing off the framework,
exposing the bare metal beneath. The flotation
had failed, sinking the structure to the sand.
The skeleton reached above the waves
in a macabre monument of failure.

It wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Davis kept telling himself that,
because there'd been superheroes
to help tamp down the worst of the weather.

It was still fucking awful, and he
couldn't stand to look at it for long.

"Hey, boss, me'n the boys are
forming up a volunteer crew," said Ford.
"We figure that Doctors Without Borders
could use a hand cleaning or setting up
their camp. You wanna come too?"

"I'll come," said Davis.

He spent the next several weeks
hauling debris, cutting into ruined buildings,
and erecting temporary structures to shelter
the aid workers or the refugees.

That's when Davis began to notice
that he could tell when it was about
to start raining, better than
the weatherman on TV.

He kept his mouth shut about it.

In the months that followed,
Davis and his people shifted to
reconstruction -- there was no point
trying to get back into floating islands yet.

The once-beautiful boardwalk had torn free
of its moorings and crashed into nearby shops,
leaving behind two rows of pilings and
a great deal of loose timber.

The crew cleared away the splinters --
which made fine bonfires -- tested the pilings
for stability, and laid down new boards.

It still hurt to stand on the sandy beaches
and look out over the waves foaming
around the ruins of la 'Tit'Ile.

"You okay, boss?" Ford would ask,
and Davis always said, "Fine."
He couldn't keep up that
front forever, though.

So Davis tried to distract himself
with the bonfires and seafood boils,
but somehow the firelight didn't seem
as warm and the food didn't taste
as good as he remembered.

Nothing did, really.

He sat on the sand and tried
not to feel the water moving and
tried not to move the water
and still said nothing of it.

When the time came that Ford said,
"I hear the company's starting up again.
What do you think we'll work on first?"
Davis finally had to admit that things
just weren't going to get better --
or at least, not here.

"I'm not coming back, Ford,"
he said quietly. "I can't, really.
My heart's not in it anymore."

"What'll you do, then?" Ford asked.

"Move away, like my folks did,"
Davis said. "The Maldives sound
like a nice place. I'm sure that
they can use engineers."

He might as well have said
he was moving to the Moon.

"Oh. Well. Have a nice life,
I guess," said Ford.

What the Maldives really needed,
though, was enough soups to keep
the country's nose above the waves.

Davis wasn't sure whether he'd have
any more luck saving the Maldives
than saving Easy City, but at least

that was some place he hadn't failed yet.

* * *


Davis Amesville -- He has ruddy skin, blue eyes, and unruly brown hair. He is single and has no close family in Easy City, despite having grown up there. After Hurricane Ida flooded their house in November of 2009, his parents and three younger brothers moved to Shreveport at the end of the year. Davis has a master's degree in engineering, which he uses to build artificial islands. The first one he designed himself, la 'Tit'Ile (the Little Island), was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012. Later he heard about the Republic of the Maldives seeking soups, especially those with powers relating to water or weather, and decided to move there.
Origin: He already had Super-Immunity courtesy of the Aegis vaccine base, but did not realize it. Hurricane Sandy left him traumatized, and he put a lot of effort into the cleanup. His Weather Sense and Water Control emerged after the storm, which felt like "too little, too late" to him.
Uniform: On duty, Davis usually wears a jumpsuit or coveralls in green to gray. Off duty, he favors blue-collar men's wear.
Qualities: Expert (+2) Engineer, Good (+2) Cooperation, Good (+2) Polite, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Recovering from Setbacks
Powers: Average (0) Super-Immunity, Average (0) Water Control, Average (0) Weather Sense
Motivation: To pick up the pieces.

Ford Alexander -- He has ruddy skin, brown eyes, and dark brown hair. He is tall and sturdy. Ford is married with an older daughter (from his wife's first marriage) and two younger sons; he is very close with all of them. They live in Easy City. Ford works as an engineer building artificial islands. He also volunteers to help clean up after storms.
Qualities: Good (+2) Engineer, Good (+2) Family Man, Good (+2) First Aid, Good (+2) Loyal, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Chills Easily

* * *
Hurricanes strike Louisiana fairly often. Know how to handle them.

Shreveport is a city in northwest Louisiana, away from the coast.

Artificial islands can be made in various styles, floating or moored. They're a good way to cope with climate change. This is the wreck of la 'Tit'Ile. If finished, it would have looked something like this.

île (n.f.) island. la Grand'Ile Grand Isle.
-- Cajun French-English Glossary

petit (adj.) small; little; short. [When used as an adjective before a noun, the first syllable is often dropped. Thus, a listener will hear "une 'tite maison" or "un 'tit chien."] (n.m.) child.
-- Cajun French-English Glossary

la 'Tit'Ile -- the Little Island

See what's left of the boardwalk.

Disasters can cause traumatic stress. Understand how to help yourself or someone else cope with it.

Seafood Boil is a southern dish. Here's a recipe, but really, this stuff is more often made by algorithm.

Big changes can cause big disruptions in life, sometimes even good ones. If people find a location triggering, it may help to move away. There are ways to deal with trauma and major life changes. Try laying out the steps for changes that you need to make in order to adapt.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, nature, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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