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Waiting for the Goddess

Sept. 6, 2002, published in Jan. 2003,

· Sitting with Mama
· Maria
· Nine Crossings
· Mama and Her

· Fallopian Chron IV
· Why I Toast, I
· Why I Toast, II
· Why I Toast, III
· Scooter/Dot-Com
· Fallopian Chron II
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· A Difficult Day
· Phantom Lover:
    Ode to
    Leslie Cheung

· I Am Salad
· Fallopian Chron I
· Taiwanglish
· Childhood's End
· Psychic Friends
· Life in the
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· Waiting for
      the Goddess

· Roswell My Eye
· Catisfaction
· My Laramie Project
· Stopping on the
    Street for
    Coltrane: A Real
    Latter Day Saint

· Whither Moocat?
· Happy Palindrome!
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· Geography
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· "Bastards"
· Watching the
    Pentagon Burn

· Communing with

· Milk
· Infinity
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· Grandma Said
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· Americat
· Moe Howard on the
Death of His Brother,

· Flashpoems
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· Nativity
· I Ask My Mother
To Sing

· Absence of Colours
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· Peepshow Kleenex
· Allen Ginsberg
Forgives Ezra Pound
on Behalf of the Jews

· Lacing Your Shoes:
Haiku & the Everyday

· Four Haiku
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· Geary & Jones,
Monday, 8:23 a.m.

· The Keeper
· december 13, 2001
· Memento Mori
· Football's Birthday
· The Edward Gorey

· Arrival
· Victim o'

· The Origin of
Teeth and Bones

· Questions for
Martins Ferry,

· This Is Just
To Tell You

· Not-Cat (& whatnot)
· To My Unmet Wife

· Englishhua
· Dave for Pope
· Papa Loves Mambo
· A Culture Report

· The Louisiana
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Historical Docudrama

· Krawkawkaw Gives
a Little

· Meet Dr. Klaww
· Letters to Dr. Klaww
· Letter from the
Hall of Justice

· An Invitation
to be Keynote

· More

All Things

· Gajandra Meets
    the Scatoman

· Gajandra and
    the Curse of the
    Six Monkeys

· Gajandra and the
    Eating Lesson

· A Moment of

· Gajandra and the
    Great Rumble

· Gajandra and the
    Problem with

· Mohamed Tahdaini
· John Guillory
· Berkeley Pier
· Bruce Dene
· Death of The Bayou
· Taiwan Food Vendors
· John Freeman
· Robin Liu
· Hector
· Dave's Corner
· Zuni Kachinas

· Mainland Murmurs
· Next to Heaven
  · Episode #8

  · Episode #16
· Crosswords Brunch


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Yung Ho, Taipei County, Taiwan
12:20 a.m., Friday, Sept. 6, 2002

We learned in World History of the great Hindu goddess Siva the Destroyer. But tonight's impending 'Goddess,' the English-language Taipei Times' rough translation of Typhoon Sinlaku, has not yet decided whether, or how much, she will destroy.

Hurricane Betsy, 1965

First appearing on my radar screen on Wednesday, the then-unnamed entity meant only excitement, my first hurricane in many years, and a needed day off from teaching English. My supervisor reported the news with some levity — that we may have the day off tomorrow. Turns out we worked today: the storm is still too far offshore, last tracked at 720 km east, and heading our way at 15 km/h.

The greater atmospheric disturbance, though much farther away — 14,000 miles east — and physically smaller, a mere city compared to Sinlaku's galactic mass — lies poised inside my mother's right breast. We won't find out the test results until Monday. The breast has to go; she knew that early — rare destructive side-effect of the radiation used to treat the earlier 'solid masses.' Occasionally, with very fair-skinned patients, the radiation kills needed blood vessels, rendering the tissue unsalvageable.

But reappearance of the cancer, so soon and in the same place, was unexpected. They've tested her bones, other tissues, everywhere you can test for cancer I suppose, and on Monday we'll learn the forecast: has this storm spun its winds in other seas? Will my mother simply lose a breast, and continue with the life she loves: the painting, cooking delicious Cajun food, holding her new, twin granddaughters? Will she be there to hold my own children, should they ever appear? Will my brand-new life in Taiwan be abruptly diverted to one of caring for a dying parent (or two) in a subtropic more familiar than this one?

Or will the Goddess dissipate peacefully, bearing less than the will to destroy? The first gales were expected some time tonight, but my boss informed me that, "it's moving incredibly slowly."

* * *

The ritual of waiting for hurricanes syncopated my childhood like none other: the communal watching of the weather bulletins, first at school and then at home; the placement on all windows and sliding glass doors of the plywood window boards that I watched my father carefully construct to custom-fit each window; the otherwise-unsmelled scent of kerosene and the delightful antiquity of 'hurricane' lanterns.

Betsy's eery eye

I only partly remember the one-house migration from our house on Lafourche and First Streets to the Thibodeauxs' stronger, brick house next door in the middle of the night almost exactly 37 years ago tonight. It was 1965, so I was not yet 4 years old; and so was bundled and carried, as we Cajun exiles trailed around the hedges, followed the crumbling asphalt's edge to safety during Betsy's eery eye. I'm sure it was Mama who carried me then, before we knew how far Betsy's swath would devastate — up through New Orleans and all the way to Ohio before her wailing would quell.

*   *   *

Soon after I rose from unreachable sleep to write these words, Sinlaku's first burst of rain hastened an ovation against my window screen. Almost as suddenly, she changed her mind and stopped, for the present minutes shrugging long enough to let the living live.

— David Saia

David Saia edits His work has been published and produced in several venues, including The Daily Reveille, The Culture Report, New Delta Review, and the now-defunct San Francisco Review.

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