“To a Hurricane” by Catherine Esposito Prescott

Catherine Esposito Prescott


At the right speed wind sounds like a train
straining its brakes as metal grates metal;
but before you imagine sparks raining
circles around the wheels, its voice changes
to a throaty hush. In the early stages, you may
mistake it for the neighbors laughing, then crying.
As doors and windows tremble, as locks labor
to stay closed, you’ll hear the cry of the mother
burying her child by the river, and of widows
who have lost everything to war. And in that moment
what remains of your sense of order is supplicant
like the spine of a palm tree bowed toward earth, fronds beaten, torn,
and the sweet cord of belief that holds your life together
fights like hell not to snap: the tree’s trunk, your back.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009
Tribute to the Sonnet

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Catherine Esposito Prescott: “So much life goes into one poem. This was written after a hurricane in 2005. As my family and I took shelter in the bathroom, we heard trees moaning, pots falling, cars tumbling. Not two years later, I revised the poem after a gun was put to my head during a robbery. After both experiences, I arose amazed to be standing—and grateful that most of my world remained intact, but I saw how quickly all I cared about could be stripped away—and this thought still shakes me.”

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