The Derecho brings change spinning
from its edge, a clock-hand turning
from a pivot point in the Midwest,
reaching Eastern cities in the foreign
language of straight wind and rain
through a July afternoon born to last
for days. Everything is made dark.
I stare from my window
into the backyard upheaval, fingers
hanging from my side, in the sudden
fullness of evening,
the newspaper I wanted to thumb
through, its folds of natural
disasters fallen beside the world
like stacked cards.
The Nor’easter had left the shape
of itself upon the beach
it spread across their lives before,
with shovel and plow, they pushed
the part of it they could
back. In the dunes sea grass
now stood, as the picture showed,
spare as grace.
My middle-age more dawns
than arrives and greater storms
wait ahead than behind. The years
tally in the body of seas, of plains.
The cracked earth of the West
marks where the heat pried
new emptiness under crops
burnt too dry to resemble thistle,
and blue skies week upon week
spread unremitting glare
and prayers shimmering toward heaven.
The paper is on fire.
The neighbors will never forget
the screams of the horses
dying in the burning barns.
The witness attests: This
and that happened. The ink
of it all stains the tips
of fingers, and so my brow.
Memory, another story, has no place
but inside this flesh, and if I could
I would not become
my father left to trace
his like veins for the fact
of the matter that he became
closing even to himself.
The storm turns lives like fruit
until stems break and carry
seeds away. After tornadoes
is what stands any stronger
than everything uprooted?
The next one will tell.
In the hushed aftermath too
quiet for refusal, life was still
listened for under homes
collapsed and hopes
for the faintest tapping.
I rap my own chest like the doctor
asking me to take deep breaths,
because the clock is
and this body is another wall
I put down the paper. I silence the TV.
I put my phone somewhere else
sometime ago. I listen to nothing.
I could tell myself it is all there.
But before I am a bit of news,
if there is ruin
and some recovery
I want to recall
under the tree
waiting near the porch
and out of the rain, whatever
its distance from now,
the sun, casting worlds
out of the leaves
and sending something else
reaching. I know what time
it is, and the weather.