August 30, 2008

Judy Schaefer, RNC, MA

DAD’S REPORT OF A TORNADO IN MISSOURI
WHEN HE WAS A BOY

I found a fence post and clung to it, held it
Called it “mama,” called it “my sweet Lord”
I found a way to pray, to beg to live on
I found the wind in the pockets of my skin
                    and in the portals of my soul
And suddenly the devil died
And suddenly my heart stood still
Still, I tell you, silent as any church
                    Still
And then, just as suddenly, I was ripped
My legs were torn, whipped from my hips
I was flung into an unwelcome sky
                    and when the sun returned
I had lost a hat and a boot
I did not die that day but I learned to count
My limbs, my toes, the numbers of my brothers,
                    my father—all there in the field
They, too, were still alive—alive, I tell you
There dropped by a black cloud, I fell to my knees
I learned to pray that day—for brothers
And for the small pulse within my feeble heart

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007