Sunday, August 25, 2013

[we] hardly see light and dark anymore

A Natural Disaster
Lydia Davis

In our home here by the rising sea we will not last much longer. The cold and the damp will certainly get us in the end, because it is no longer possible to leave: the cold has cracked open the only road away from here, the sea has risen and filled the cracks down by the marsh where it is low, has sunk and left salt crystals lining the cracks, has risen again higher and made the road impassable.
The sea washes up through the pipes into our basins, and our drinking water is brackish. Mollusks have appeared in our front yard and our garden and we can’t walk without crushing their shells at every step. At every high tide the sea covers our land, leaving pools, when it ebbs, among our rosebushes and in the furrows of our rye field. Our seeds have been washed away; the crows have eaten what few were left.
Now we have moved into the upper rooms of the house and stand at the window watching the fish flash through the branches of our peach tree. An eel looks out from below our wheelbarrow.
            What we wash and hang out the upstairs window to dry freezes: our shirts and pants make strange writhing shapes on the line. What we wear is always damp now, and the salt rubs against our skin until we are red and sore. Much of the day, now, we stay in bed under heavy, sour blankets; the wooden walls are wet through; the sea enters the cracks at the windowsills and trickles down to the floor. Three of us have died of pneumonia and bronchitis at different hours of the morning before daybreak. There are three left, and we are all weak, can’t sleep but lightly, can’t think but with confusion, don’t speak, and hardly see light and dark anymore, only dimness and shadow.

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