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Genevieve, Born During A Hurricane

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Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

Back then, they had

the predictions

of women.

.

The smell of wind,

expanding clouds.

The drop of pressure

deep in their bones.

.

She was due to arrive

in that season of heat.

Brown calico curtains

had slapped for days.

.

The women felt her

in their wombs;

dreams

were of rosemary

flames

blew the wrong way.

A blue baby heron

fell to the ground.

.

They boiled water

boarded windows

pulled boats to shore,

smeared crosses of mud

across their front doors.

.

The women gathered

with a rustle of sheets,

massaged their sister

with herbs and oil

.

held her small

fevered hands

chewed on roots

moaned through

contractions

hallucinations

.

breathing in unison

panting, searching

for the rhythm of

a curly black head

shoulders, arms

ten fingers, ten toes.

.

Genevieve came in

with raging wind

salt-thick water

loud yellow sky

.

blood and tide

rising

over their feet

.

chunks thumping

on a cottage roof

trees bowing low;

waves clapping back

across broken shore.

.

They finally heard

the creak of quiet.

Small drops of

sleeping

baby’s breath.

.

They washed Genevieve

with soft brown sheets;

saved the slick glisten

of remnants

in rusty pails.

.

Their breasts

were heavy,

filled with milk.

.

Her mother,

fourteen,

did not survive.

.

***************************************************************************

.

I don’t usually post brand new work, because it’s not finished.  Are they ever

finished?.. But I felt compelled to share this draft because of how it began.

.

One night last week, I dreamed I was walking along the shore back home.  I

was wearing a peasant style dress that (somehow) I knew was from the early

1900′s.  I wondered why I was wearing it.  I saw a mirror floating in the water,

and I picked it up and looked.  I looked like a girl I don’t know.  Maybe she

symbolized me or someone else in my life. She had black curly hair

and bright green eyes.

.

Then the mirror turned into a piece of wood.  I became very excited, because

I knew it was a piece of wood from my father’s boat.  I don’t know why that

excited me.  My father’s boat was sold when a family member couldn’t afford

to work the water anymore.  When I’m awake, it makes me sad to think about

the boat.

.

I turned the wood over in my hands, and it had the title, Genevieve, Born

During A Hurricane on it.  It also had these words written under the title:

.

The women felt her

in their wombs;

dreams

were of rosemary

flames

blew the wrong way.

A blue baby heron

fell to the ground.

.

The words were written in bright yellow, and I could move them around with

my finger.  But in a few seconds, the words would move back to their original

positions.

.

So I woke up with a prompt for a poem.  I left the stanza exactly as it

was written on the wood in my dream.  I can still see the words vividly in my

mind, including the semi-colon.

.

I wanted the poem to be about Genevieve. .But, as usual, the poem is taking

me where it wants to go.

.

Today, I remembered that an elderly lady once told me rosemary would

keep evil spirits away.  I looked up some of the history of rosemary

superstitions online, and I read that it was also considered a “women’s

friendship” herb, and women used to always include it in their weddings.   It

sort of freaked me out to read that after I wrote the poem.  I hear the song

from X-Files playing.

.

One final thought.  Why am I always a peasant?    :D


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