It Might Be a Hurricane Year

said my Caribbean professor when i told her something terrible happened
to Blair and Alrae and so i could work and be academic
no longer. Blair and Alrae, i said, as if she knew them personally,
the way i thought the world must have known them, personally now,
how i seemed to see their names stretched
across the Hudson just like their bodies were
pulled across the Po, and she was right—hurricane being the name
of the feeling, the twist of it, the knowing my friends
died in a country that was not ours, not theirs, not mine.

though it seems she said hurricane and meant it, said it,
hurricane year, as if she knew, months before Dorian arrived,
that Dorian would arrive and pull a cousin out to sea. the twist,
the knowing of it. i watched and held my phone
to the faces of my friends in Brooklyn and said see, said sea,
as they saw the video of the woman screaming
to heaven, the ocean thick and many tongued at her feet.
said these people are me. furican, maybe, the Arawaks
would have called it. furicane, juracán, hurricaino,
though none of them survived that storm
of men that arrived on their shores, the men and women
that brought the men and women dark as me,
the ones that would lead to me and the ones i love now and the storm
that took some of their names. hurricane i say in a park
in Brooklyn and i think of Blair. hurricane i say in the sentence
where i list the names of dead. hurricane i say once more
before a prayer, the one where i beg to never say it again.

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