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Arlington’s First Poet Laureate Reads a Poem About a Storm

Arlington’s recently-appointed poet laureate read a new original poem at one of last week’s Arlington County Board meetings.

At the Tuesday, July 19 meeting, poet Katherine E. Young read a poem entitled “Evening Storm: Ballston,” which depicts the aftermath of a thunderstorm that felled a tree in the area.

“This poem describes an actual storm that took place near Lubber Run Park but it could very easily serve as a metaphor for where we as a community and we as a country find ourselves now,” said Young, who’s the first poet laureate in the county’s history.

The poem is transcribed below.

All last night, the sirens shrieked.
Fire trucks skittered like water bugs, their plastic eyelids conning streets gorged and rivered by the storm.
Daylight reveals buds, limbs, entire trees shattered where they stand.
Already, chain saws roll their metallic rrrrrs.
In my neighbor’s yard, a fresh cut stump.
The raw wood, cool, wet, smooth to the touch.
Twenty-six rings, 26 years of xylem and phloem ferrying food and water for the care and feeding of this one tree.
It might have stood for years to come, shading this house, shading the houses that follow this one.
All of the houses and the tree itself pretending that the shading of houses is the purpose set out for the tree.
Surely there’s some purpose for everything.
Surely what we do here has meaning.
Why else would we have crept last night from our hiding places to flit along streets littered by downed trees and power lines.
Strange nocturnal insects marking the darkened blocks with the scent of our headlights.

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