In The Meantime

By Max Garland

The river rose wildly every seventh spring
or so, and down the hatch went the town,
just a floating hat box or two, a cradle,
a cellar door like an ark to float us back
into the story of how we drown but never
for good, or long. How the ornate numbers 
of the bank clock filled with flood, how 
we scraped minute by minute the mud 
from the hours and days until the gears
of time started to catch and count again.
Calamity is how the story goes, how
we built the books of the Bible. Not 
the one for church, but the one the gods
of weather inscribed into our shoulder
blades and jawbones to grant them grit
enough to work the dumb flour of day
into bread and breath again. The world
has a habit of ending, every grandmother 
and father knew well enough never to say,
so deeply was it stained into the brick 
and mind. We live in the meantime
is how I remember the length of twilight 
and late summer cicadas grinding the air
into what seemed like unholy racket to us, 
but for them was the world’s only music.

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