Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Storm Warning

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Storm Warning

Article excerpt

The peacock's shriek blistering the midnight air,

the roar they always claim mimics a freight train

rounding the bend. Hurricanes south and west,

though too distant to raise concern, but I wake

to the emperor bird crying murder again,

and mother at the door all frazzle and panic

is saying, "The funnel is coming. His vengeance,

girl. We've got to barn the livestock and reach

the root cellar," but this time I say, Animals

be damned, and head for the stairs, my nightgown

shiny with sleep's friction and now flowing.

In the flecking mirror: my motion's inane ghost.

Across the field, an apparition spits its voice.

I give one thought to the files of twined letters

and unfinished fictions, the Mercury typewriter

with its twenty-six demons. Moments like this

soul matters less than breath, and I imagine

the frayed pages of savage comedy all swirled

like a magician's trick, the lame and the halt,

prophets and blessed dimwits all gone to chaos,

every plot giving way to blather and howl.

In the final count, story is just another affliction,

the illusion the grand scheme is within our ken.

With the weather almost sideways, peach trees

losing their blooms, our modest garden shaking

like the Second Coming and the sentry bird gone

who-knows-where, I can hear the Ecclesiast whisper

Vanity, vanity! …

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