Weathering
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

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