Self-Portrait During a Tornado Sighting
Through the window I see a murmuration
of starlings bat against the weathervane
like bullets of rain & feel my buzzing
thigh—texts & social media
tear across the great plains & rocky
mountain states, heralding news
of earthquakes in California.
My mother’s messages are worry, worry—
paraphrased, my replies read guilty, guilty.
I type furiously: i don't see the twister
though I do, transfixed as the swirl
pummels trees in the distance, licking
its fists with every advance. The television
offers no advice—red, green, & yellow
flash over a map of Ohio
as if the state were a cuttlefish
mesmerizing its prey with a light show.
I am god-scared now, seeing the layers
of grit & shearing-magic too closely.
God is taking his drill to the earth.
My yarmulke will not protect me—
ducking-&-covered on a second floor
apartment building—wearing a loose
helmet of fingers over that.
I’m down to a lone match flickering
in the tar-dark, listening to the trauma
in the tornado sirens’ automatic bleating—
not for the cyclone, but for the birdless
quiet that follows.