No. 34: All that was washed away
For Topher Guertin (1976-2023)
I think that when you died
all that was you
poured out into the world
filled the skies and streams
lakes and rivers, filled us
and it was more than we the world could hold.
You shook and spilled over
raged over the edges of every wall, bulkhead, dike and dam.
The floods came, consequential and fierce.
The damage was the pain we felt
when we could not absorb
the life force gushing around us.
We wondered in awe at how the deluge would not end
and did not believe all that was washed away.
Yet, here I stand, knee deep in the clean-up
not unscathed, not OK.
I bend down back breaking with shovel in hand
scooping up toxic muck and silt
the leftover flood effluent.
The smell of gasoline and shit and mildew
overpowers and I’m surprised at the tears in my eyes.
And I wonder when will the water fall back?
Where will it go?
How will the damage repair?
And where have you gone, you beautiful man?
Our dear family friend Topher passed away unexpectedly on July 11 in the midst of catastrophic flooding that ravaged many communities in Vermont, including our town of Montpelier and neighboring Barre and Berlin. If you are able, please consider donating to Topher’s family GoFundMe and the VT Flood Response and Recovery Fund 2023.