You have spent a summer of nights dreaming your way into disaster. This morning you opened your eyes and mumbled, “The city blew away and I couldn’t save it.” You never had to confront the whole sky until now. Citybred, tough blood, your tornadoes speed down streets, tear up 5th Avenue, scatter glass and concrete in their paths. Distressingly accurate – a sickly yellow sky, a tall tunnel of clouds – but dreams still. You have never seen the storms of my summers. Childhood, for me, happened between the sirens, happened after rising, blinking, from the basement and before we descended again. My father’s ancient radio crackled with constant updates, and we kids insisted the dog join us among the sleeping bags and the Smurf puzzles. I have no need for dreams of catastrophe; I sleep beneath the safety of your arm and the hum of tired bees. This is your first summer on the prairie – it buzzes long past dusk, no coastal breeze to lull the grasses to sleep. Last summer was cooler but we couldn’t see the stars. Here summers belong to storms, to tornado-green dusks and sweet corn. In your dreams an entire coast is ripped from earth and spun into ocean. For years I lived in your city, and summers strangely silent without the midnight sirens. On hot city nights my feverish dreams were of fields filled with rushing city crowds, of bomb-threats in barns and I had to save the cows. This heavy buzzing must seem like sudden deaf to you, no wailing police cars beneath your windows. Now I dream of gathering Queen Anne’s lace by the roadside, of coming home to a patch of sunflowers all mine. Once I left a world behind to settle on your coast, mined the polluted skies for my summer stars. Caught up in our own dreams, the distinctions between your life and mine are blurred in memory and sleep. My childhood tornadoes race through your glass cities, your bomb threats in my barns. I will offer you the sanctuary of a country basement if you promise me a street full of sunflowers and a city full of stars.
1 August 2001