Bastrop News

Chase Wilkinson’s Message to Katrina Through Poem

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Katrina: Home Wrecker

I awoke at 6 in the morning to the howl of category five winds battering the walls of our “safe house”. I had just enough time to notice the clock before that ominous sound of power suddenly snapping off officially signaled that Katrina had finally found us.

Rain was already spluttering through the loosened window frames. I was about to embark on my first full day of being a teenager and this was the spectacular gift that mother nature bestowed upon me.

Stubborn as Wilkinson blood is we decided that we would mount up and battle the soulless witch on our own terms. My birthday was spent making sure that the flood waters wouldn’t be bothered by any of that pesky furniture on the ground floor of our small condo, an easy bike ride away from that cruel mistress Lake Ponchatrain. A name overshadowed only by the city she destroyed. A friend who had more sense than us lent us his house to serve as our fortress inland while he fled the state along with thousands of our more prepared neighbors.

We welcomed in other valiant families determined to settle a score with nature’s fury. As the day raged on I watched our fortress buckle and break from the winds wicked force. Fathers scrambling with makeshift support structures to keep doors from blowing in and weakened walls from collapsing. I watched the turbulent waters of the sizeable lake out back obliterate docks and thrash boats. Grand oak trees I had once climbed and played around for years before hand were suddenly horizontal with only a handful of roots keeping them from being swept into neighboring houses. But with all this chaos I could only marvel.

For in the end I was merely thirteen and terror was not a common response to rain and wind. I knew things were dangerous but the adults were drinking and singing songs from battery powered radios. How bad could it be? It isn’t til now that I realize that this is the way adults in my family deal with extended trauma.

When word came in that the levies fell I rejoiced. Not out of some ill will to my fellow man but out of opportunity. I could not conceive of New Orleans sweeping away below walls of water. Or lives that would be destroyed by such an event. I only understood that all that water had to go somewhere and it was better their houses than mine. Oh to be young and stupid.

The following months and even years would truly teach me the lessons I could not grasp in that heat box of a house the day the levies broke. But for that one glorious day I was finally a teenager and nothing else could compare. I couldn’t be bothered with worrying about suffering. I had finally reached that milestone id been scrambling for ever since I began watching shows about junior high school. And goddamnit nothing was going to take it away from me. Such an anticipation to have my salvaged melting Birthday cake and that only I could blow out those candles no matter how gusty the winds of a monster storm.

Sorry New Orleans. I’ve grown up a lot since then. You made me.

Chase Wilkinson

now Bastrop, Texas 78602

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