“I don’t want to alarm you, but . . . . ”
strikes the eardrum first. And then
trailing its wake of silence.
Tonight you have been detained
in the holding tank of gel and electrodes
where a stylus monitors your quaking.
Again you are made
to repeat your name.
In the hush and babble of the ER
the whitecoats hover and confer.
Lucky you! Not a single positive
You may go home
to that other life with its soothing clatter,
the required emotions.
Once again you have passed the test
for the wrong disaster.
Last Friday a man was struck by lightning.
He lives to tell it:
“My friends heard it strike,
saw smoke rising from my body.
My shoes flew off!”
In the front page photo he looks abashed.
Heat gathers drop by drop till the cloud
cannot contain it. Lightning
sizzles across in a burst of ozone
and the whole sky blanches.
I love the wild brilliance that will not last.
My grandma was afraid of lightning:
“If you feel a storm coming, cover your head
and pray.” Her house in the old country
had a roof of straw.
I don’t believe in the god of lightning
anymore. My house is stucco and wood.
I’m afraid of safety.
When the lights go out
I’m awake at the window,
watching that live wire ignite
the fire of water and air
that can turn us to ash.