After the Flood

Joie Martin

A year later, when the waters had receded
and only a thin layer of silt was left
to coat the parquet, we wiped our feet
on the swollen straw mat and forced our way
through the warped front door.
On the other side, rooms once inhabited
by words, suspended like panes of glass
from corner to threshold, now lay studded
with deadfall. We picked our way
through river-sludge and half-trampled brush,
seeking the glimmer of a life abandoned.
On the banks of our bedroom,
our brass headboard lay crumpled,
sculpted curlicues jutting like the ruin
of rusted towers. We moved on,
ignoring the bored hum of fat dragonflies,
across the slick, river stone foundation
and into the kitchen. There we made tea
of swamp water and memory, and
I remember thinking, “I need
a re-breather. I need an iron-lung,
just to get through this conversation.”
Though the waters have receded,
we move like skin divers, trading
warm flesh for masks and suits of rubber.
That fatal kiss, that revealed us both
to be amphibians remains unspoken;
we gaze into one another seeking
our own reflections, counting ripples,
peering just beneath the surface. Time
is measured by the unhurried lap
of water at river’s edge; we slap
fitfully at clouds of droning insects,
the glint of foxfire ephemeral
beyond the rushes, sparks of ghostlight,
fathomless in the distance.

Joie Martin is a senior at Kennesaw State University and a recipient of the university’s Undergraduate Writing Award for Poetry in 2010.  Her work has previously appeared in Share art and literary magazine.  She also is a writer for Accelerando Game Laboratory’s “League of Spies,” a pervasive, multimedia alternate reality game developed for the Android market.  She lives in Marietta, Georgia with her partner of several years and her two d