Tornado Warning

by Joyce Sutphen

That is not the country for poetry.

It has no mountains, its flowers

are plain and never poisonous,

its gardens are packed into blue mason jars.

There are no hedges bordering the roads, the sky

flies up from the ditches, loose in every


Yet I knew it to be passionate,

even in its low rolling hills, where a red

tractor pushed through the oat field, cutting

down gold straw and beating a stream

of grain into the wagon trailing behind

in the stubble,

I knew it to be melodious

in its birch woods, leaves shadowing

a stone-strewn river, the path along the bank

softened with pine needles, sunlight

woven in and out of branches, the many

colors of green, solid as a pipe organ's

opening chord,

I knew it would haunt

the memory with its single elm,

where a herd of cows found shade

in the July heat, their bony tails

swinging the tufted bristle left and right

over the high ledge of a hip bone,

while at the horizon, a black fist

of storm came on, something not

to be averted, something singular

in its fury,

as any blind heart knows.


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