Pensacola Pantoum

This poem is about Hurricane Ivan causing heavy damage to my hometown of Pensacola, Florida in 2004. The poem is in the form of a pantoum, where lines alternately repeat down throughout the poem.

One of the most striking things about the aftermath of the hurricane was how the sugar-white sands of Pensacola Beach blanketed the ground in a fine white powder. I hadn’t seen snow at that point in my life, and it struck me that this is what it must be like.

The poem was written in 2010.


"Pensacola Pantoum"

The sand was like snow
that day, after the hurricane.
The city was in ruins: we were stranded
like fish left to rot on the docks.

That day after the hurricane,
we rode a boat out to the beach.
Like fish left to rot on the docks
every house had been gutted.

We rode a boat out to the beach.
The sand had made drifts that filled up
every house that had been gutted.
I wondered if this is what snow was like.

The sand had made drifts that filled up
my mouth, had buried my tongue.
I wondered if this is what snow was like,
but knew that it was warm enough to speak.

My mouth had buried my tongue.
The sand was so bright we couldn't see.
I knew that it was warm enough to speak,
but even the seagulls were silent.

The sand was so bright we couldn't see.
The sand was like snow, and
Even the seagulls were silent.
The city was in ruins: we were stranded.