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At sunrise, the storm was still assailing us.

I waded across the yard to check on my neighbor.

Peering through the stepped panes of his front door,

I saw movement in the house;

A flashlight was erratically surveying the furthermost room.

I entered and announced myself.

The old man,

in his briefs and undershirt,

barefoot with pale skeleton feet,

was stumbling around the living room,

helplessly watching

the sopping ceiling tiles and insulation

sagging and falling,

and the rain cascading

from the exposed beams and rafters,


onto a lifetime of stuff.

He brokenly gasped the heavy air,

but was otherwise mute,

frantically arranging what few trashcans, buckets, and coffee cans he had

to contain what little rainwater and debris they might.

As the morning light finally seeped

through the turbid cloud masses churning above us,

I silently began moving the sodden stuff

to an adjoining room,

placing piles of armfuls haphazardly

among a roomful of antediluvian piles,

where they were to remain


probably until the old man died.



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