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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


by  Terry S. Johnson                                                                                              

Flashlights, matches, candles, canned foods.
Camping stoves cleaned and filled.  Porch
furniture stored.  Taped windows framing
new points of reference.  I am not alone.
Millions are waiting.  Many with beer.
Others with books, board games.  At first,
a party feeling, routine suspended.
Then memory encroaches with the rains.
Worrying that when my concert begins
my fingers will not remember the difficult
passage in the last movement of the Bach,
the keyboard slippery with sweat.  Praying
my infant son’s fever will break, bathing
him in tepid water, on my knees sobbing.
Longing for the biopsy results.  Negative.
My mother waiting months to hear if her
husband survived his bailout over enemy
lines.  My father roasting potatoes all night
in a cabin, snow and Germans swirling
around bare cliffs.  The winds pick up. Trees
like modern dancers sway in finale or collapse.
Like those caught in the exuberance of nature
who run out towards the waves.  Or the men
who take up their old rifles, bullets scarce and
join the rebels, fueled by decades of repression.
Their women and children huddled in bombed out
buildings, wondering when the storms will end.

Terry S. Johnson explored careers as a newspaper advertising clerk, a library reference assistant and a professional harpsichordist before serving as a public school elementary teacher for over twenty-five years.  She recently earned her M.F.A. in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Her work has appeared in The Peregrine, The Berkshire Reivew, The Women's Times and The New Verse News.