Blow Wind Blow

By Thom Mahoney

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Blow wind, blow wind, blow my baby back to me.
Blow wind, blow wind, blow my baby back to me.
Well you know if I don’t soon find her, I will be in misery. 

–”Blow Wind Blow,” McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters)

When the wind stopped, there was an eerie and sudden silence before debris began returning to Earth. Shower doors and 2 x 4s and spatulas and stuffed animals tumbled from the sky alongside terrified cats and dogs. And when the dazed residents began emerging from their bathtubs or hall closets or from under piles of scattered rubble, the horror was everywhere. Roofs pulled and tossed like playing cards, cars toppled over and piled like Lincoln Logs, second stories sliced from houses like layers from a cake. Leafless and barkless trees stood naked and withered, their branches reaching skyward, asking, pleading: Why?

And then car alarms and police sirens and the anguished cries of neighbors and friends.

Three days later, 139 people were still missing. The President had come and hugged and promised, volunteers had brought bottled water and shovels. Media crews swarmed like insect infestations, gawkers and looters circled like jackals.

Zombie-like survivors wandered through the streets searching for loved ones. Photos posted on bare trees and toppling utility poles, hastily copied flyers handed out to anyone, everyone. Rescue dogs and expert trackers were brought in, hi-tech listening devices, robotic probes.

Sandra Nichols had been laying a flagstone path through her vegetable garden with her daughter, Amelia, when the warning siren sent them into the bathtub with the mattress pulled atop them. Then the wind came.

But, she couldn’t hold on, the wind yanking her daughter from her arms and sucking the scream from her throat.

Now, she wanders the Salvation Army and Goodwill, the hospital and clinics, the emergency services, and like all the others, she stands at the doors of the makeshift morgue and wonders why they won’t let them look at the bodies. Surely she’d know her Amelia, they’d all know their loved ones.

These people – these survivors, they are called – they wait for their DNA to be matched, while praying it never is.

And as the sun begins to set for the fourth time since the wind came, you can hear the cries of the living for the lives they have lost, as they pull wet teddy bears and shattered family photos from twisted and splintered piles, looking for artifacts of how life once was.

While mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wander the streets hoping to hear, hoping to see, hoping to find what others have not.

“Amelia. Amelia, can you hear me?”

Thom Mahoney