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Thursday, May 23, 2013


by Marjorie Maddox

Marcus Yam for The New York Times

Searchers Find Body of Killed Child in Oklahoma Tornado --AP, May 26, 2011
Woman Finds Boy After Mother Drives Van Into Hudson --The New York Times, April 13, 2011

Wind/Water, Oklahoma/New York,
the domestically symbolic bathtub/minivan,
two mothers.

And so fear gathers speed, swirls in
or out, grabbing—in its selfish velocity—each state
of who we are or were, what’s left
of our man-made lives holding tightly to the already-
born, the life still coming.

Temporarily wedged between faith and scream,
a mother sings reassurances as each
tree, board, sink, tub, life
twists and spins into the horizon
no one foresaw, grief beyond the boundaries
of such predictions, life splintered limb by limb,
like and not like (half a country away)

that other dream-turned-disaster:
depression’s dark tunnel twirling
beyond the imaginable, tires whirring
too quickly toward the Hudson,
fueling the speed of no-return,
a family’s last vision of sky flooded
with the damp wet of despair.

Except ten-year-old La'shaun,
who—between death and breath—
rolled down his window to let out fear,
then swam toward light.

And in Oklahoma, five-year-old Cathleen,
who, amidst the hurricane’s howl,
recognized hope in the heartbeat
of her unborn sibling:
that faint hum in the ear,
or that sudden surge toward possibility

into what one day even you and I—
after a particularly hard day of the ordinary—
might discuss as casually
as weather, as someone else’s life.

Marjorie Maddox is Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania.