Unbridled Instinct


Image SC National Guard from Cone of Certainty:a memoir of Hurricane Harvey.

You can tell how bad a house was flooded
just by driving by it.
The height of the debris is one way.

Cribs, quilts, easy chairs
all jangled into sand bars of trash.
The color on the walls shows the water line.

The debris tells a story, too.
The higher the flood, the more cabinetry on the curb.
Ceiling tiles, chandeliers.

The naked oaks astride Spring Creek,
blend shades of river sand and drywall
into dusty white ghosts of themselves.

Everywhere, on the lowland ranch, clothing
hangs like mutant flags from other planets,
their colors reviving in the wash and sun.

No word on the horses, probably safe.
Not like the last time when nine washed downstream.
Riders cry over horses just like they were people.

Horses are not responsible for where they once were
when the waters hit. Not at fault for not evacuating
when they had a chance, when their instincts told them

to run, and later, to swim for it.


Mark Kessinger was born in Huntington, West Virginia, attended college at Cleveland State University, lived in Oklahoma City, and now resides in Houston TX. His books include The Exploded View (Cleveland State Press) and The Book of Joe (Cleveland State Press). His poems appear in many literary journals and magazines.

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