Saturday, July 10, 2021

Tornado Alley

 Friday I awoke at 10:00 p.m. on the couch as the meterologist excitedly said egg-size hail was pelting everything in the counties just west of us. I ran out into the pouring rain to move my car under the carport. By the time I got back in he said, "Well look at this! See the red dropping on my map? The hail is pushing down and the storm is collapsing just as it arrives in (our area)."

What a relief. The night air was eerily still. I have experienced enough tornadic activity in my life in the midwest to know to be on guard. 

My granddaughter lives thrity miles south of us. She texted a video of what my mom used to call an electrical storm with continual lightning illuminating the sky. I listened to the audio as Ashley, her husband, and the kids watched what looked like fireworks. It was an incredible light show off on the horizon. "Ooh! Ahhh! Wow!"

Seven-year-old Laim said, "Imagine if all the lightning all over lit up at the same time." Creative mind! 

Almost three-year-old Charlie said, "I scared." Mama told him to come by her. Needed security.

Almost four-year-old Alex said, "When is it going to be DAYtime?!" Wise little guy reasoning that soon it would end. Not soon enough.

I tend to stay away from windows and avoid being outdoors during storms, but my thrill-seeking granddaughter, an amateur photographer enjoys them. 

Ten years ago, jagged baseball-size hail pelted the area of Tornado Alley in which we live, resulting in severe damage. It also did major destruction in Joplin, MO. Thus, Missouri writers did a collaborative book drive to resupply the Joplin Library and schools which were destroyed.

This poem was published in 2011 in Storm Country, The Anthology, compiled by Missouri Writers' Guild. Out of 337 submissions mine was one of 153 pieces selected.

Storm Chaser

Wind whips, gusts howl, sirens shriek.
Thunderhead barrels and swerves up interstate.
Tornado drops, streaks across prairies, into towns,
flattens flora and fauna, peels roofs like sunburned skin,
splinters treetops wishbone-fashion. 

Relinguishes its bully grip, roils the Mississippi River, and heads East.
Reverberating trees and strangled hearts, still.
Night air thickens, blackness sizzles with electrified ions.
People search for their candles and wits, survey the damage.
Worried loved ones contact each other.

My cellphone plinks a text received.
I read the message and gasp. My granddaughter,
the photography major, sends me a just-snapped image.
The swirling wide-mouth monster bearing down,
chomping faster than her boyfriend can drive.

Her message: Safe! Isn't ths a grt shot?
I stomp and storm up the basement stairs,
shake the wrinkles out of my wadded up nerves,
send a silent prayer, "Protect those affected and this crazy kid, too."
I calm down and realize I used to be young and invincible.

Not included in the book: I texted her back. "Grt sht, now gt home u little sht."


DUTA said...

I've been scary of storms since childhood.
Your poem looks very powerful; you've put everything in it: the tornado strike, the Missisipi river, people looking for candles, cellphones, your grandaughter' and.. a concluding prayer.

Val said...

We just had a little thunder and some rain here, an hour south of you. But Hick must have been watching the same channel, because he went outside to look up in the sky for the egg-size hail. He was disappointed.

I don't miss those night of dragging the boys out of bed to sleep on the basement couch while we listened to the scanner and weather radio. Can't get TV when the satellite dish can't get a signal due to clouds and downpours.

Pat Wahler said...

I remember that book. I had a poem in it too. :-) In some ways it seems like yesterday. In others, a thousand years ago!

Red Rose Alley said...

I have another blog friend who is on tornado warning right now in her area too. It's good that your granddaughter is not afraid and tries to learn about them with her photography. But the little ones always need comfort and love during these fierce storms and lightening. It sounds like you are knowledgeable about the tornadoes and are prepared. No tornadoes here, but in California we get the earthquakes and the fires. Stay safe, and take care.


ps.....I liked your poem. : )

Sioux Roslawski said...

Liam's idea did get me thinking... It would be quite a sight.

That tornado--on Earth Day which was also Good Friday--tore the roof off my school. We had to pack up our stuff on Sunday, and very generous middle school teachers shared their rooms and the school library and other spaces so classes could continue without any interruption. It was quite an experience.

Susan said...

Cool poem, Linda. Tornadoes are pretty scary. I always think of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. That was a tornado, right? Without the sparkly red shoes, they are very threatening! Hope all is well, especially with little Charlie. Plus the layoff must be petrifying for a young family with little ones. Thinking of all of you. Susan