John c. Mannone
Clouds paled yellow—a lutescence of insect wings—
before the swarm of wind shook the sky.
The weather radio crackled, hissed its tornado warning
while sunlight waned behind the thickening darkness.
Only a moment ago, the quiet Midwest air
didn’t rattle kitchen windows. There’s no time left.
We ran to the bathroom in the middle of the house—now,
our prayer closet; danger crouched at the door.
I huddled in the bathtub with my son, too young
to know anything about survival, old enough
to sense fear.
His eyes scoured my expressions for reassurance.
I didn’t show him the raw truth hidden in my face,
pressed him to my bosom so he would hear my heart
instead of whimpers and the shuffling madness
of a locomotive wind.
I stared at the leaky faucet, at the rust stains
inking porcelain, strained to read their cryptic patterns,
to make sense of it,
but the brass fixture, dulled with indifference, oxidized
to verdigris—a green intrusion from the atmosphere—
before the coming of the night train. The wind screamed
before spooling power lines into its vortex,
and the walls of my sanctuary,
before it snatched my son from my arms. It left nothing
but the skim milk scalding, and the pot
clacking on the stove.