If I could have cut through the red tape
(oh, yes, you will give me my child!)
a little faster,
we could have made it home
before the siren song.
Instead, we joined the crush in the hallway,
backs against the wall,
old muscle memory
duck and cover.
A little girl I didn't know hid her face and cried.
I touched her arm and whispered,
"Don't worry. It's not even close."
Death grinds north,
nebulous and rain wrapped.
Finally unpenned, we make a blazing fast break for it.
How many times did I tell my child we were safe
even as I stacked pillows in the hall?
How many times did I assure her that everything was fine
while the opaque sky called me out?
Did she believe me
or the helicopter holding a storm track hover overhead?
You don't realize that you've been holding your breath
until the siren cuts off
and you breathe again.
All clear . . .
and all silent,
but for a bleak, radio voice
factfeeding your visions
of duck and cover,
and empty slabs.
As many of you know, my part of the world was hit by a tornado yesterday. The above is true; I had to take shelter in the hallway of my daughter's school when I wasn't able to make it back home in time. Four miles away, children at another elementary school did the same duck and cover, and it wasn't enough. I don't usually do "disaster poetry," but the sheer randomness and unfairness of it all really affected me. I apologize if this strikes anyone as insensitive.
The Sunday Whirl words for Open Link Night at dVerse