Poem of the Week | June 20, 2022

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Black Hole in the Long Island Sound” by Peter LaBerge.

Peter LaBerge is the author of the chapbooks Makeshift Cathedral (YesYes Books) and Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press). His poetry has received a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in AGNI, Best New Poets, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Pleiades, and Tin House, among others. Peter is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Adroit Journal, as well as an MFA candidate and Writers in the Public Schools Fellow at New York University.


Black Hole in the Long Island Sound


It was Adam’s idea: taking off our clothes and screaming
              beyond the shallow water, just so we could
disappear. For just a moment, screaming god
              doesn’t exist so he wouldn’t. For just a moment:
our mothers, our fathers, our hurricane,
              our college plans, his car, the names
our parents gave us… you get the idea. The beach
              naked from the hurricane—no one but us
                                                          to fill it. And all I had
              was a body, this white flag waving
torn and voiceless from shore. The shore
              was cold: bloodless skin, no body or bone
to shape it. What was I wearing
              before he stripped it off? What did I say
to my parents? Did they know I was the one
              who tracked sandy footprints up the stairs
the morning after? The wind salted my mouth
              as I waved that night, as Adam beaded
the surface of the infinite black, each time
              further on his way to some unraveling
seam of the sound. The charcoal clouds
              were the stones Sandy threw from Connecticut
clear to Rhode Island, flowers of nightwind, salt
              to taste or touch. If, even now, they grip
my feet like small hands, they could be
              sand crabs keeping busy, waiting
for sand to reappear. They were dropped
              by god into this world incapable of home
                                                          and they were going to die.


Author’s Note

I have this visceral memory from my high school senior year of being on a date with a boy named Adam. Hurricane Sandy had just ravaged the same Connecticut coastline where I’d spent my whole childhood. Between the day the storm struck and the day power was restored a few weeks later, I’d met this boy twice and we’d subsequently gone our separate ways. I can’t think about this (dis-)connection without also reckoning with Hurricane Sandy. Through this poem, I strove to project the emotional distance between Adam and me – between this boy who happily flung himself into the post-Sandy waters and me, who waved “torn and voiceless” from shore – onto the wake of the natural disaster itself.