Black Friday

These tragic days bring back 30 year old memories. Time for a poem.

The screen door is so thin


No kind of shelter in the face of whatever this is

Skies shrouded with dirt

dark as intermittent radio reports


I am six, almost seven

Out on my grandparent’s acreage if I remember right

Hid from the storm’s piercing eye


My mom is in the hospital for unrelated reasons

(always in the hospital)

She watches through an upstairs window while ambulances unload bloody faced bodies from the trailer park


I don’t remember being as afraid as the adults 

Peeking out from behind brave masks

Shouldering the frail feigned strength of parenthood


Rumours reach our hideout

Stories too wild to be true lodge themselves in my mind,  indisputable


On a highway my aunt is driving a small red truck when 

the funnel picks her up

spins the truck around like Dorothy’s little shack

places her unharmed down the road against the traffic


Pictures come into focus

Maybe I saw these things or maybe, 

I heard them and painted my own images


Trees along the highway uprooted and overturned, 

roots reaching desperately to heaven 


Hail the size of marbles. No golf balls! No baseballs!!

Hail is in the deep freeze for safe keeping


We want to hold those images

Trap them in our loose webbed memory

Maybe we can make something from all of this madness


You cannot make sense of a sky that twists itself around you

Daytime darkness and flooded freeways

Flying farm trucks and the trailer-park poor hit hardest


There is no answer when a house folds in half

When the origami roof is torn and tossed

when the scary basement is your safety


They are saying all of this on the news again


Even today, as the heatwave yields 

to an overnight onset of cold, wind and rain

I hear my father’s voice–

‘looks like Tornado weather’


Everything has happened before


There is something about the sky today

heavy with compassion, maybe

blowing cold through my thin screen door, 

survivor of Black Friday


Across the City of Champions we watch, 

melting frozen hailstones in our hands

Photo from Zurem Meru on Unsplash