Mark Allen Jenkins

Removing Hurricane Debris

When last August hurled
the first hurricane of the season our way, I laughed
at your use of packing tape to secure
glass windows in your rented house,
Its only ability to not peel off glass.

It’s what the locals did to prepare
for a hurricane. Fill their gas tank, run
to the store for beer, ice, Zapp’s potato chips, anything
they could grill. Outsiders, we compare it to tailgating.

I’m unsure what you were protecting- a bathroom
door whose antique knob turned then broke, stubby
florescent lights, rental offwhite shag
carpet that absorbed Natural Light. A bike, used
to ride to campus once in a harrowing, near
injury over profound experience. A backyard
no mower ever tamed.

I try not to think of my
apartment down the street- putting off
packing, emptying, until the last
minute all of it, plates, a freezer
full of chicken, popsicles, Jim Beam.
A packing feels like a retreat, an army
of me pushed too far south, Louisianan
Gulf Coast ate away at my shoes and car.
The only thing left was to head west to Texas,
leave the mildewed concrete behind.

As I slowly make my way
up your house’s windowpanes, each swath
of tape, glue, and gel, removes traces of your
short time here, but like my thumb, indented
where it extended the scraper’s blade, each future
resident will notice small traces that can’t be scraped away.

First published in Stone Highway Review


Originally from the hilly corner of Ohio, Mark Allen Jenkins’s poetry has appeared in Memorious, Minnesota Review, South Dakota Review, Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio, and Gargoyle. He recently completed a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas and currently teaches in Houston.