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Distance Of the Givers

The storm surged and we worked in the mess
serving the survivors; four to six wax beans,
one curled half-circle of Spam, a dinner roll.
Many were landlords, or judges, or mayors,
before, and longed to be again, in Beaufort,
though the lines were down. Or we fed the crews
who chainsawed upturned maples and pick-axed
their great raised disks of earth.
At twilight the poor waited with their own plates.
At dusk we cleaned up styrofoam and lucite,
entered our spreadsheets in a master program,
and slept in our locked SUV. All night we flinched
at a fingernail scratching a fender, a flashlight
whose weak disk contained the template of the bulb.
Before dawn we woke to faint cornets. We washed
and assembled the trestles. We could hardly tell ourselves
from the logy stubborn flies coupling in midair.
The crowd milled behind the fences. We were the givers,
that was our power, hoarded like water in cupped hands.
Once we could remember the storm, but now
we only know it, we can never again imagine it.


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