poetry and poets

Thursday, January 06, 2005

fists against the wind

fists against the wind
tony gallucci

Okay, Okay. It's 10 p.m.

Beulah’s her name, some old aunt from Louisiana you didn't know, only heard of, but now here she is because she left her brawling husband behind in some dingy Lafayette stinkhole bar with a bunch of dusty ducks hanging on the wall no one can even remember who shot them. Now, you'd expect her to be blowing hard about all the nights no sleep, fighting him off in the late hours, the only hours when noise would make the neighbors talk 'cause it's so noisy around here anyway. And you'd know it was a powerful storm blowing in, the thunder that wakes you in the times when kids don't wake to anything unless they've been made to, that we don't talk about even if you knew about it, dropping your eyes, looking away, keeping the glare of knowing the truth from blinding you, those kind of storms, that throw dead twigs on the roof and push the ash tree over to scrape at the shingles, trying to get in, cats bawling at the porch door, running from their own unsated torment. She roared in off the Gulf of Mexico as the day wound down, though you'd never been able to tell an hour from another by the light or the dark of it. She roared in and was blowing, they said, 200 miles an hour, sometimes on the only radio station left going, everything else blown away or near. The old Buick Skylark, iron and steel mostly, rolled a hundred yards. I told my sister, the one got me in trouble all the time, told her ‘twas the ghost of Beulah drove that car down the block and ran out of gas, thank God we'd forgotten to fill up, in the fixing up of everything to be ready we'd forgotten to get gas, so if we’d had to escape her ghost, we'd not gotten far ourselves, and my sister, smart as hell, called me a liar, and squealed on me, and I said yes sir, yes sir, and went on about my lying, only quietly to myself to cover the scared-as-hell part. My only tree, the only one I could climb, and talk about at school like she was the girlfriend from another town no one else knew, and pretend had shade in the deep of August, that scrawny old mesquite, watered and fertilized and trimmed like no other weed in the whole world, was stretched northwest like had a rubber band on every limb and was really a jealous slingshot aimed at sleazy old Beulah's heart, until she gave up, gently laid herself down to the ground flat in all that swirling mess of leaves of old newspapers and new creeks, never had been creeks in a hundred miles of here 'til now, laid herself down and whispered sweet wishes to me no more. And just to remember we got to stand out on Sycamore Street for flash pictures with the new Leicaflex and repeating flashbulbs when Beulah was down to a measly 80 miles per hour, and we yelled in the dark look out, look out, and laughed when Michael went flat on his gut to the oily river our street was, and then it just died and dad said there’s the eye and we were sorry because you couldn't see the sun like we'd all been told about the eye, and we never heard the thousand freight trains sound, was really a tornado sound, but everyone is confused when you expect disaster and have to settle for ten days of cleaning mud off everything, and nobody gets killed or even faints, and then the winds picked up again and you watch from inside as part two flips everything back over and the heavy rains hit, the ones that'll take the big river Rio Grande places she's never been and steal the homes of people already gone to Florida for the last of citrus season and have to watch all that from a thousand miles away in black and white. Last thing is us standing sideways against the wind, fists raised against the flash in what's left of what we had on Sycamore Street (and then there’s the hurricane party hamburgers that scraggly old mesquite grilled for us, last thing she does, just for me of course).