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Saturday, July 07, 2012


by W.F. Lantry

Outside the heat continues,
unnatural even for July,
even for this place,
while inside the modified air
suggests the unreal is possible.

when I held the exploded branch of a Sycamore in my hand,
I could still see the veins,
and along the edge between bark and wood,
found traces of the storm's lightning.

Yet butterflies continue to circle three cherry trees near the house,
deer go by at evening, slowly grazing,
as if the world were eternal,
as if the unchanging constellations were unsurprised
by the transformations of this earth.

How many of us have been given this gift:
to stand at our open door,
gazing at the illuminated altering sky,
at the exact moment of its weightless change?

I felt all my past experience prepared my understanding then,
pigtails of clouds predicting tornadoes,
the sounds of approaching trains,
a particular shade of green in the bolt-lit night sky,
and all the cyclones, hurricane winds and bands of rain returned to me,
and I remembered walking as the eyes passed over,
the strange particular calm,
even as we could see the other dark eyewall approaching.

At that moment of gazing
the air was so humid I felt almost underwater,
looking up through sea-green swells
at incandescent clouds swirling past in waves.

Yet just as I understood none of us are immune,
not even the earth,
she asked me to come back inside,
to close the door,
to live a while longer in the cool mechanical breeze.
And I did: I even slept within it.

But I woke again to that single moment,
it returns to me as I stand at the floodplain's edge,
where the giant Sycamore stands broken,
branches and bark and dried green leaves scattered
over both lawn and riverbank,
where the deer still walk,
and butterflies even now resume their dance.

W.F. Lantry, a native of San Diego, received his Maîtrise from L’Université de Nice and holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. His poetry collections are The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012) and a chapbook, The Language of Birds (Finishing Line Pres 2011). Recent honors include the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (in Israel), and in 2012 the Old Red Kimono and Potomac Review Poetry Prizes. His work has appeared in The Valparaiso Fiction Review, Asian Cha, Gulf Coast and Aesthetica. He currently works in Washington, DC, and is a contributing editor of Umbrella: A Journal of Poetry & Kindred Prose.