[from Lynn Emanuel’s The Dig, 1992]
One Summer Hurricane Lynn Spawns Tornadoes as Far West as Ely
The storm with my name dragged one
heavy foot over the roads of the county.
It was a bulge in a black raincoat, pointed
and hard as the spike in a railroad tie;
it dipped like a dowser’s rod and screamed
like the express at the bend at Elko.
It made the night feverish and the sky
burn with the cold blue fire of a motel sign.
Oh that small hell of mine nipped at the town,
turned the roads to mud, lingered at the horizon,
a long clog, a sump. All sigh and lamentation,
the whole city of grief rose up to face that black
boot that waited to kick us open like a clay pot.
This Is the Truth
Now, this is the truth of that particular fiction,
sweet angel, I mean, she hopes you do not buy
all that sweet domesticity, that tenderness and yielding.
She remembers her father only vaguely,
the glittering wreckage of his black hair,
rinsed in oils, the sap of melting pomade
that leaked from his sideburns which he dabbed
with a hankie. He inhabited his armchair
like a black cloud. Glum. Cultivated.
His temper was a downed power line
that fishtailed back and forth across their lives.
Lethal Hits. Near Misses. To avoid it
they crept for miles over dangerous passes
to Ely, my precious, they had stolen a car,
and were on the run, sleeping in tacky motel
rooms, cooking on a hot plate,
terrified and poor at last, oh my darling girl,
as you can only be when you have become
a fugitive from domestic life and are blessed
with nothing that anyone could want,
free and out of luck and poor, poor at last.