In late October 29 years ago my wife and I parked on Hospital Drive for job interviews at UVA. Our son was in a stroller. It was a beautiful fall day. We strolled over to the dorm room where Edgar Allan Poe lived when he was a student here.
A few weeks ago, the weekend before Halloween, we left work and drove to NYC to visit our son. He lives in Brooklyn, within view of Manhattan. On the drive home we felt the weather changing. He didn’t lose power from Hurricane Sandy, but he lost his subway. Last week a patient told me the home he grew up in, on Staten Island, was washed out to sea. Last week a colleague told me her kids stay frightened of the weather.
Last June we lost power and trees in a storm that acted like an unfurled tornado. No rain, only wind. Insurance does not cover damaged trees unless they fall on the house or car. Our home and cars were safe. We were lucky in our unluckiness. Our neighbors lost the shade for their shade garden.
The narrators and characters in the poems, essays, and stories in Hospital Drive are often concerned with loss. They would know that nothing is safe for too long, that insurance has its limits, that the eye of the storm is dangerous.
On October 27th I took a picture of Manhattan at night. In addition to the city lights and the East River there are two people, mostly shadows, standing on my side of the river. I hope they are warm and safe. I hope they didn’t lose much. I bet they have flood zone tales to tell.
D. H. Lawrence said that water is hydrogen and oxygen and a third thing that makes it water. He wasn’t just talking about the weather. The narrators and characters in the poems, essays, and stories in Hospital Drive would also be concerned with the “third thing,” the unknowable in life and death and all that waits beyond our changing planet.
Daniel Becker, Editor