As the days without power wound on, the Philips family settled into a new routine at their Miami Shores home: listening to an old transistor radio, living by the light of an old kerosene lantern.
Many years earlier, when he had been leaving Jamaica for a new life in Miami, Geoffrey Philips mother had pressed her humble emergency kit on her son. When Phlips, a poet who is now an associate professor of English at Miami Dade College, turned on that radio to ride out Andrew with his own wife and three children, he thought about his mother, who had died a year earlier, and the meaning of her gift.
What the hurricane asks you is, What are the most important things in your life? he said. I knew I was with all the people I loved and I had my mothers radio.
That evening, some two weeks later, his daughter came to him and said, OK, Daddy, Im going to draw a picture and youre going to write a poem. He called it Heirlooms.
Through the garbled signals of a transistor radio my mother kept for hurricanes like this, but never like this, we scan for the next location of ice, water, food, and catch the edge of a Caribbean tinged station, fragments of a Marley tune, no women, nuh cry, everythings going to be all right, and my son, barely nine months, who cut a tooth while Andrew gnawed through the grove, dances with his mother by the glow of a kerosene lamp, preserved through airport terminals and garage sales, and, as the window splintered the house glittered for a moment before the walls fell flat stood on the mantle of the fireplace we never used. In the mist of the rubble these, our only heirlooms, bind us against the darkness outside, all that we could ever give, all that we could ever pass on or possess: this light, this music.
Hurricane Andrew 20 years later
- The Intro
- The Captain
- The Emergency Manager
- In Country Walk
- At Turkey Point
- Stories of comfort
- Broward bound
- The Weatherman