Born and raised in Florida, Heather Sellers grew up in an extraordinarily difficult home. The natural world provided a life-giving respite from domestic violence. She found, in the tropical flora and fauna, great beauty and meaningful connection. She made her way by trying to learn the name of every flower, every insect, every fish and shell and tree she encountered.
That world no longer exists.
In this collection of poems, Sellers laments its loss, while observing, over the course of a year, daily life of the people and other animals around her, on her street, and in her low-lying coastal town, where new high rises soar into the sky as the storm clouds gather with increasing intensity and the future of the community—and seemingly life as we know it—becomes more and more uncertain.
Sprung from her daily observation journals, haunted by ghosts from the past, Field Notes from the Flood Zone is a double love letter: to a beautiful and fragile landscape, and to the vulnerable young girl who grew up in that world. It is an elegy for the two great shaping forces in a life, heartbreaking family struggle and a collective lost treasure, our stunning, singular, desecrated Florida, and all its remnant beauty.
The guava tree hides its hard, green fruits now—though no one eats
them, not even the rats.
The grand old mango leans so hard to the south—trying to escape late
life ankle-deep in salt water, storm-worn.
Black mildew coats the clay barrel tiles on my roof and every leaf on the
potted lemon tree.
Lacy trees sprout from the gutters. It’s like hair springing from the ears
of a lover.
At night in my bed, almost every night, I dream I’m underwater.
Sometimes I breathe underwater. Sometimes I drown face down.
“Reading Heather Sellers’ new book of poems, I am by turns dazzled, harrowed, fascinated, afraid, and then my mouth falls open coming upon an image or a phrase so lovely and unexpected that I have to close my eyes and let it surround me. Field Notes from the Flood Zone is a book so spectacularly original that you don't just read these poems, you steep yourself in them. What a triumph!”
—Abigail Thomas, author of Safekeeping
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2022