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By Holly Hagman

The day after the hurricane–after salty bay water licked at my ankles, after Mother Earth’s tears drowned the town, her fists against the pavement in an argument with the moon, whose own fury gripped and yanked at the waves, the tides’ destruction ebbing and flowing in detrimental harmony, after the rushing and splashing outside the darkened windows, eerily audible in a galaxy of black dotted with spectral stars, after the empty shells of houses stood at attention, soldiers that survived the war, after I returned home, beaten by the scent of low tide, of decaying horseshoe crabs, of wet sand, of old fish and mildewing driftwood, after the salt burned my eyes, the air acidic and aggressive, after the silence was unsettling, the subdued whoosh of waves a distant whisper, after I noticed that the waterline was taller than me, after the parmesan cheese drifted behind the couch, the eggs floated into the dryer, the milk broke open in the bathtub, after I pushed open the swollen wooden door to my bedroom, after I knelt on damp carpet, moisture seeping through my pants, numbing my knees, after I clutched waterlogged copies of paperback books, their pages disintegrating like damp sand between my fingers, after the ink ran down the pages that remained, eyeliner met with salty tears, after their words escaped and floated away, a droplet of hope in a deep, endless ocean, after the sun shone high in the sky, a welcomed warming presence in the crisp October air, after the weeping and the screaming–was the only day loving the water felt like a mistake.

Holly Hagman is a teacher and writer from a small town in New Jersey who enjoys collecting coffee mugs, cuddling her cats, and defending the use of the Oxford comma.


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