Sunday, December 15, 2013


                                             THE BALDWIN HILLS DAM 

 December 14, 1963.  The peace of a Saturday afternoon shattered by helicopters.  Police cars cover the streets, bull horns at full volume. 


            People rushing outside. What dam?  Where?

            "Didn't you know?  In those hills." 
            "No, we didn't know. Just moved here two weeks ago."

                                                courtyard Christmas tree–
                                                silver ornaments
                                                reflect the sun


Turn off the oven.  Grab the two children, bottles, diapers.  What else?  We don't know.  Take one car.  Don't be separated.  Lock the door.  East?  West?  North.  To my mother's house.

Rock and roll on the car radio. Jingle Bells and Rudolph.  Where's the news?  Another block, then another.  A slow moving line of cars.  Tense faces and short tempers.

"It's going….going…It's GONE!  Gushing water… gaining momentum… cutting a swath down the hillside along Cloverdale Road."  The announcer, reporting from a helicopter, is breathless.  "Still coming…292 million gallons…trees uprooted…houses breaking apart…cars tumbling." 

Our apartment is not in the direct path, but still…  In silence we worry. Traffic begins to thin out as we travel further north.

                                                puffy clouds–
                                                at a neighborhood playground
                                                children play dodge ball

We watch the news at my parents' house.  An hour and a half to empty the dam.  Nine feet of water on the Village Green apartments.  Five dead.  Eighteen rescued from roof tops and collapsed houses.

Early the next morning we are allowed in the area temporarily. Already a sour smell from dirty water and debris. At our apartment door, a water line at two feet, but only a puddle inside.  Our Volkswagen–the engine, clogged with mud.

It could have been worse. 
                                                Sunday church bells
                                                to and from the door
                                                the sucking mud         

Shamrock #5, Jan. 2008


Bill said...

Well done, Adelaide. The balance of prose and verse is somehow exactly right.

Adelaide said...

Thank you, Bill. Every year I remember that day and our surprise at the news on such a quiet, normal Saturday morning.


Gillena Cox said...

awesome, the text is exiting, great end haiku with a most surprising Line3

much love...

Adelaide said...

Thanks, Gillena. Glad you enjoyed this.


janetld said...

What a welcome to the neighborhood! Riveting work.

We downloaded your book onto Kindle last night. Haven't had a chance to look at it yet ... but thanks! jld

Adelaide said...

Thanks, Janet. I hope you enjoy it. I would greatly appreciate it if you could take the time to write a review of An Unknown Road.

all the best,

janetld said...

I'm not at all an expert at haiku - barely write any myself - so I couldn't write a decent formal review. But is it on Amazon? I could add a review there.

janetld said...

Duh, never mind my question. Of course it would be on Amazon since it's a Kindle book. (Is hubby's Kindle. Hopefully sometime I can tear him away from it to read your book!)

Adelaide said...

Hi Janet,

You needn't write a formal review. Say anything you like or don't like about the book, but don't feel you have to write a review.

You'll have to get your own Kindle. My hubby and I don't always read the same books, so we had to have separate Kindles. Actually, they were gifts from our children who insist on us keeping up to date with technology.


janetld said...

That good - your children helping you keep up-to-date! My husband's a techy type, but I'm always lagging behind. Sure, give me some time, but I'd be happy to post an Amazon review/comments.

Adelaide said...

Without grateful thanks.