Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest, week one: storms (amateur category)
Raised in California, you freeze with each storm warning,
listen for the locomotive roar,
imagine the funnel cloud descending
dark against greenblack dusk.
Strange, I thought. You know
the earth can swallow cars, buildings,
that land can collapse to sea,
that the next Big One is inevitable.
Yet a twister might pass blocks away
and leave us unaware until sirens woke us.
But now I know: you are a child of the land.
Amidst its tremors you brace under doorframes
without fear. I was raised by sky,
its furies as much as its calms.
When the evening chills with the hammer of hail,
the air takes me breathless, tense, home.
— Izzy Wasserstein
Izzy Wasserstein was born and raised on the Great Plains and currently teaches at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. She received her MFA from the University of New Mexico in 2006. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Flint Hills Review, Blue Mesa Review, Coal City Review, BorderSenses and elsewhere.
2 thoughts on “47. A Kansas Native Discusses Natural Disasters”
Oh, my, gosh! I did grow up in California where what we most dreaded were the three-day santanas when the dry, hot air blew from the east and stripped all the bark from the eucalyptus trees. I had to learn all about the weather again when I moved to Kansas (but I still wouldn’t go back).
I see that my mother has already posted a comment on this poem, but that was posted prior to her experience in the deadly May 22 tornado in Joplin, Missouri. What would she say now? At any rate, I had always told people that I wanted to see a tornado someday, but I guess God misheard me to say, “I want to be in a tornado.” Not so, of course. A healthy respect for nature and its potentially destructive forces is always well advised, whether one lives in California or in Kansas.