Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Windowless Place

Before the microburst flattens the earth
in the field outside my aunt’s trailer—
fescue grass leveled against rust-red clay—
my little brother & I watch virga streak
the near sky white. It falls from clouds,
hovering above the ground, vaporizing.
We don’t yet know storm cell seeds are breeding
above the expired, overgrown farm field,
feeding thunderheads. Our mother calls
from the open screen door, repeating the forecast
told to her by the red weather radio
that has watched over us since 1992.
She fears storms building in ozone-
scented air, the sound of heavy rain against
tin roof, lightning striking
dirt. We leave her to watch the clouds
blow into the supersaturated air.
I feel it brushing skin, pulling my T-shirt tight
against my body. My brother
holds my hand loosely; the idea
of protection is enough like safety.
Once when I was young, the wind
picked me up with the gust,
deposited me knee-down on asphalt.
So I tighten my hold.
Our mother’s calls are eaten
by the air. She wants us in the dry
tub, the closet, whatever windowless
place everyone is hiding.
But he has just learned of the water
cycle, wants to see virgae branch
with his own eyes, from nimbostratus
toward fields long ago let loose
to the deer & wild hyacinth.
Tomorrow the town will reach
for something like recovery,
picking branches from broken
car windows. For now, periwinkle
blooms flutter, petals rip
in preparation. My grip presses, nails carve
crescent moons into my brother’s skin.  

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