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.


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