HELEN sits at her desk
DRAWING ink landscapes.
Her eyes a PURE PERIWINKLE blue
sparkle as we beg her
to tell us the story.
Helen always began
with a LAUGH and this BOAST,
“The hail was big as BRUSSEL SPROUTS
as I pedaled my BICYCLE down SHANNON CREEK ROAD
about SEVEN on a summer evening in 1977.
“I knew the gray clouds,
dark, mean and low,
could bring a storm as bad
as any of the ones which caused
the other two JOHNSTOWN FLOODS.
“My muscles moved strong
and rhythmic like a PANTHER,
racing against the storm.
The ice balls pummeled me,
then came the hammering rain.
“My friends JENNIFER and SYDNEY
built their cabin unwittingly
in the lowlands by the river.
Halfway there I had to abandon my bike
and run along the flooded road.
“I made it to the cabin as the water
reached their porch step.
I banged on the door.
They came out wondering
if I had gone mad.
“We fled in their Chevy.
Eighty-six lives were lost that night.
But not eighty-eight.
Your grandparents made it.”
“Thanks!” we say and run off to play.