Wednesday, October 05, 2016

#5: Look Sharp



"Look sharp," my grandfather used to say
when he took me hiking.
His arthritic fingers tracked the horizon,
the color of the sky,
pointing out shifts in wind and cloud,
insignificant specks of gray 
that foretold storms. 
"People don't watch the weather 
nowadays," he said. I agreed. 
Why did we have to? I was no farmer,
no hunter. I did not fear storms.

Once, we huddled in the hallway 
while the television blared: Take cover! 
At the same time, a tornado passed overhead. 
Thump, thump, thump,
the sound indelible.
I could taste my fear.
Would we be that random
family, house and possessions 
strewn about in the yard, a morass of lumber
and disbelief, shocked to be alive, 
weeping into loss?

We drove through a tornado once, my husband and I,
the sky filled with that awful round swirling gray cloud,
cars pulled by the side of the road next to trees,
as if that would protect them
from the howling wind.
Our car lifted from the road now and then,
but we made it through the storm.

I have no lessons today.
Storms of many kinds pass with little grace
as relentless as seasons.
But I remember hiking with my grandfather, 
his stories of cowboy days, 
wild horses, rattlesnakes, rodeo,
singing in bars with his guitar during the Great Depression,
the one who taught me to see the sky.

Today's prompt from OctPoWriMo, that challenge to write a poem a day, asks us to explore the meaning of "sharp." I wasn't sure how to find my way into a poem until I remembered hiking with my grandfather, his connection with nature, and how he watched the sky. 

The photo is one I took through our car's windshield back in 2007 as we traveled through Minnesota. My husband and I drove through that storm, the circling cloud filled the whole sky, and the car actually did lift from the road a few times. We drove until we found a motel in a small town miles from the passing storm. That night I dreamed of being tossed through the storm cloud. 

These powerful, violent storms, some hard-to-understand result of geography, wind, and temperature, leave devastation behind, impossible to understand. We watch with concern as we wait for news about Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm now making its way through the Carribean toward the east coast of Florida. Flooding. Wind damage. Displaced thousands and thousands of people. I'm hoping the storm will turn East and dissipate out in the Atlantic.

Click HERE to read what some 70 poets have written today. Why not just join in.