Napo 10

The Gospel of High Water

Some people say “Come Hell
or high water.” I think of the Hell
that high water brings
every time I drive across the bayou bridge,
every time I see a raincloud approaching from the gulf,
every time a drop of water falls,
unexpectedly, onto my hair.

And I remember the Hell of high water—
Middle of the night evacuations
With the cats loose in the backseat
Of the car, meandering the mazes
Of closed roads, flooded streets,
Shuttered windows and gas stations.
Even the refineries knew better
And shut off their bright lights,
Their flare stacks, their smoke.

High water as a way of teaching you
How to pray. How to let go of everything
And leave it all behind. How to select
What really matters. How to trust
The chaos, to roll the dice,
To close your eyes and drive across
that road that might instead be river.

The gauges, the bayous, the floodgates—
All false senses of security. The Hell
Of high water obeys no rules,
Fills neighborhoods, houses,
Nostrils, lungs. Come Hell or high water,
we say As if calling it, inviting it, proclaiming it,
Beating our chest against the sky,
Come Hell. Come high water.
Show us all how powerless we are.