Poem: 'Through the Eye'
I was 12 years old. My friend joked: I can’t ever see rain
the same again. Only the storm, the roofs of submerged houses
like lily pads, the news going 24/7. Born in the year of Katrina,
graduating high school through a pandemic, my generation
will get diplomas in disaster, degrees in damage. What kind of city
are we inheriting? Each once-in-a-lifetime flood is a watershed
moment, but we’ve had so many they’ve watered down
this community. Five years later, are we still Houston
Strong? Do we still have that outpouring of love to fight
the downpour? We’re swamped with work to fix this swamp,
where flood mitigation benefits the people who need it
the least, who would prefer high ground over taking the high road.
We don’t see rain the same. Some see a deluge—others see delusion.
Leveling and raising homes won’t raise up our communities
of color if we don’t get a say in how we rebuild. To get to where
Houston can be headed, we need roofs over everybody’s heads.
This is a city of innovators. The iconic graffiti in Downtown
comes to mind: Be Someone. This is a city full of Someones,
it must be something in the water, but we don’t see the same.
Let’s try looking through the eye of a hurricane.
So many volunteers show up, some have to be turned
away. Strangers muck out each other’s houses. Neighbors rescue
neighbors in their kayaks, boats and canoes. A different flood
and different Noah’s Ark, while Arkema explodes and
families evacuate and floodways fill. Our dams couldn’t hold
Harvey, but we have so much capacity in this city to say
in all our languages: 我爱你. Te amo. I love you.
I was 12 years old. I’d never seen love
of that magnitude. Yes, deeper injustices surfaced
from the floodwaters. Its murk made inequity clear.
But when we see rain, we remember
what kind of city we’re inheriting. A city
that floods. A city that loves. A city that survives.
Lee (she/her/她) is from Houston, Texas. She is a 2022 member of Meta-Four Houston, Houston’s official youth slam poetry team coached by Blacqwildflowr and City of Houston Poet Laureate Outspoken Bean. She has been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation and can be found on IG @ari.purplecrayon.
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