Tornado Warning, by Joyce Sutphen

Tornado Warning

That is not the country for poetry.
It has no mountains, its flowers
are plain and never poisonous,
its gardens are packed into blue mason jars.
There are no hedges bordering the roads, the sky
flies up from the ditches, loose in every
direction.
Yet I knew it to be passionate,
even in its low rolling hills, where a red
tractor pushed through the oat field, cutting
down gold straw and beating a stream
of grain into the wagon trailing behind
in the stubble,
I knew it to be melodious
in its birch woods, leaves shadowing
a stone-strewn river, the path along the bank
softened with pine needles, sunlight
woven in and out of branches, the many
colors of green, solid as a pipe organ’s
opening chord,
I knew it would haunt
the memory with its single elm,
where a herd of cows found shade
in the July heat, their bony tails
swinging the tufted bristle left and right
over the high ledge of a hip bone,
while at the horizon, a black fist
of storm came on, something not
to be averted, something singular
in its fury,
as any blind heart knows.

by Joyce Sutphen

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