This poem was, of course, inspired by the terrible condominium accident this week in Surfside, Florida, North of Miami Beach. A tall multistory building collapsed in the wee hours of the morning. At least four were killed and many more are missing (at last count 159.) The collapse was caught on film from several angles and calls to mind Oklahoma City and 9/11 to those who are old enough to remember. Rescue dogs and rescue teams are scouring the area for survivors.
I once worked in South Florida, in an older building that was several stories tall. I also lived on the eighth story of a German apartment building, years ago. I never considered, that such ordinary modern choices were a risk to my life.
We think of such tragedies as occurring in other countries. Haiti. Syria. etc. Not in the United States. Usually, as a consequence of war, or terrorism, or natural disaster.
No one knows the cause of this. Right now, they are just trying to save people.
I’m sorry, that my poem, with it’s dark message, that you can’t count on anything, is not more consoling.
A vocabulary note, for non-legal types: fee simple ownership is when you own property (land and what’s on it) outright, with no rights siphoned off to others. In perpetuity means into the infinite future, down the generations. (These are my own definitions, for the purpose of this poem. Keeping in mind, that Property was not my favorite subject in law school.:))
I also refer to the scientific fact that ages ago, Florida and vast parts of the Mid-West were submerged (in Florida’s case more than once.) I mention the theory of Continental Drift, in which the continents were once one massive continent (Pangea). They then split off, and drifted to their current positions, over the vast expanse of geologic time.
Thank you for coming by.
My heart goes out to the many families affected by this. Please be generous to those in need.
We walk along the clifftops.
We stroll on rolling land.
With seismic surges, rock and roll,
And build on shifting sand.
What once was underwater,
Now teems with life and limb,
The liminal, between the cracks,
Is where our lives have been.
As back, across the ages
Of continental shift,
The solid-built Pangea
Each landmass set adrift,
So now, we cling to islands
Of peace, prosperity.
When suddenly, a crisis shatters
What once, we took for granted–
That man could build on sand–
Is proved untrue, by wind and wave,
And man’s own careless hand.
To us, unchanged forever,
It remains a simple fee:
We act, as if we owned the place,
Copyright 2021 Andrea LeDew
For a reaction to a different type of disaster, read Too Dark.
For my take on infrastructure, read Or Else.