I was twelve the year I slept in the earth,
in a perfect room lined with scentless wood.
It was the best place, the basement.
In the rhythm of appliances,
a child sleeps as though she wasn't born.
The washer boomed into the night
like an emotional heart, the refrigerator knocked,
dragged out the bones and argued.
The furnace was a fiery lung, but I was safe,
surrounded by plumbing.
Over me, when everything had fallen into ruin,
I heard my parents rearrange the day's wreckage
into the shape of a bed.
I heard my sisters dig forward with their paws
and wedge themselves under its boards.
And then the snow came down, collapsing the sky
around us in a blank formation.
In the spring it happened, as it was meant to.
The violent rain surged through the walls,
forced me out the cellar hatch in a round blue tub.
The calls of my brothers came over the string-can telephone.
Come in! Do you read me? But I was gone.
The river hammered and bubbled through the drains,
the line snapped, their voices grew fierce as mosquitoes
dancing on the head of a pin, clouding the wreckage
I passed, as the flood rushed me over its wide surface,
shredding my nightgown, my shawl of stingers.
I left a white foam in my wake, a net
drifting underwater for the feet of my sisters and brothers.
And now I fear for them
stepping in the holes of it and pulled underneath
the current of my luck. Understand:
it was as if I could escape only by abandoning everything.
I didn't think of all that's left in the aftermath,
twisted in the slogged roots, the earth walls undermined, the wires
slipping from the poles, alive and dangerous, into the water.
- Louise Erdrich