After the Storm, the Stars: Everyday Magic, Day 335

Another poem inspired by Stephen Locke’s photographs, this one taken after the tornadoes in Oklahoma last week.

After the Storm, the Stars

rise from the Osage Orange, wheeling effortlessly overhead as if

nothing has changed. They shine awake in the fresh open heart of the air,

cleansed free of all but the wind without end that lashes leaves against leaves.

Meanwhile, the rays of remnant clouds burn translucent, then invisible.

The exposed dirt ages in the wind. A slat from a child’s doll cradle grows into

the grass. Paper from two towns away lifts to ferry important words nowhere.

The sky exhales, waits, surges then drops to the disturbed ridge where flowers

rock upside, the rocks from elsewhere dream of the old days, and in the off and on

cadence of distant train whistles someone’s cries come staccaco to this night

wrapped in shimmer and quiet. Tomorrow, not so far from here, there will be

search dogs and careful lifting of sheetrock and broken furniture, then

bulldozers and power saws, rented U-hauls to save, then clear, whatever is left.

Months ahead to measure what was lost, articulate what the weather can do

in numbers and even more, read the brail of the stories left behind. The new world

not conjured arrives here anyway, and over this sprawling tree of life, the stars.

Dreaming of Tornadoes: Everyday Magic, Day 250

Last night, I saw a dozen ropey tornadoes merge and form an enormous tornado. I wasn’t afraid, just interested, as I am most times I dream of tornadoes or, for that matter, see them when awake too. Of course, having never seen anything larger than an F2 tornado (which is large enough to peel roofs off but generally not powerful enough to fling cars around or insert blades of grass into telephone poles), my lack of fear is based on inexperience.

I lived in Kansas for more than a decade before I began dreaming of tornadoes, something I aspired to like learning to fly in my dreams (which I didn’t figure out until my 30s). Most native Kansans around me had been dreaming of tornadoes all their lives. It’s a given among most people I know: sometimes we dream of tornadoes just as pregnant women often dream of giving birth. But dreams bend the edges of what we think is possible. Ken has dreamt of tornadoes made of flowers. I dreamt of giving birth to kittens, linked together like a line of sausages.

Dreams also don’t correspond with the events of the day. Despite the sudden snowstorm (again? sheesh!) yesterday after the surprising defeat of the Jayhawks, coinciding with the end of spring break, my little sadness didn’t follow me into sleep but instead fell away so I could watch the sky do astonishing things. When I woke to see the snow coat on all the branches thinning and falling off slowly, the bright clouds of the day and the very tornado-less sky all around, I shook off the tornadoes and made some coffee. Spring is coming, and anything can happen.

For the most incredible photographs and videos of tornadoes, see Stephen Locke’s gallery.