In Dr. Fady Joudah’s poem “House of Mercury,” a severe summer storm has blown over Houston. The storm’s destructive winds woke up the narrator’s father, who hears the “snaps and creaks” of the two oaks in the front yard. But it was a “nearly uprooted fig tree,” the poem notes, that brought the father to tears.
At first, the poem is a survey of the storm’s aftermath, with neighbors helping each other clear the wreckage from their homes. It isn’t revealed until more than halfway through the poem that we learn the storm happened during the coronavirus pandemic. A crisis on top of a crisis.
“I was elated with the beauty of the human spirit that transpired and how connected all of us are beautifully to each other and to the earth,” said Joudah, who helped his parents clean up after a strong summer storm hit their home city of Houston last year.
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